Man Captures iPhone Photo of Mayan Pyramid Firing Beam Into the Sky

When Los Angeles resident Hector Siliezar visited the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza with his family in 2009, he used his iPhone to snap some photos of a pyramid called El Castillo. After snagging a lightning strike in the third shot, Siliezar was surprised to see that he had also captured what appeared to be a beam of light shooting up from the pyramid towards the heavens. Jonathon Hill, a researcher who works with NASA’s mars imagery, tells MSNBC that it’s probably the result of an iPhone glitch:

He says the “light beam” in the Mayan temple photo is a classic case of [image artifacts and equipment errors] — a distortion in an image that arises from the way cameras bounce around incoming light.

It is no mere coincidence, Hill said, that “of the three images, the ‘light beam’ only occurs in the image with a lightning bolt in the background. The intensity of the lightning flash likely caused the camera’s CCD sensor to behave in an unusual way, either causing an entire column of pixels to offset their values or causing an internal reflection (off the) camera lens that was recorded by the sensor.” In either case, extra brightness would have been added to the pixels in that column in addition to the light hitting them directly from the scene.

In an interview with Earthfiles, Siliezar notes that none of the people present actually saw any beam of light when the image was captured, which supports Hill’s explanation that it was simply a camera glitch.

(via Earthfiles via MSNBC via Gizmodo)

Image credit: Photograph by Hector Siliezar

  • Maltfalc3000

     lose the tinfoil hat and go learn how a digital camera works. also a real, physical beam of light would look nothing like this. it would illuminate the air it passed through and the clouds above it, not just brighten the clouds behind it in a narrow little strip directly opposite the camera. PHYSICS! GO LEARN SOME!

  • Mike TheVet

    Is that the only comeback on the entire internet when something that we can’t explain happens? “Lose the tinfoil hat” Does that make you sleep better? But you don’t care about progressing the conversation. You just want to sound cool on the internet but bashing other people’s comments. Keep your head in the sand, Malt, you’ll feel safer.

  • ballsofplatinum

    hmmm of the millions of photo’s ever taken of any pyramids through out the decades, one pops up with a glitch causing a beam of light in the photo, so yeah its a possible coincidence, but is it just more a coincidence that it happens to have happen near the end of the mayan calender cycle? at a mayan pyramid complex? and the beam of light is just coincidentally directly on the top of the pyramid, not across, and NOT GOING RIGHT DOWN THE PHOTO THROUGH THE PYRAMID, and coincidentally it happens to be purple, which is the same colour as a infrared beam when recorded?

    nah too many coincidences!

  • HH

    Good belief system, glad it worked out for ya.

  • stewart young

    Fake as pam anderson titties