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

  • Michael

    End is near and NASA is trying to cover it up while building a Noah’s Ark for only riches and the powerful.  The rest of us is just screwed, damn.

  • Gary Simmons

    Blah Blah Blah with the technical reasons for this beam… I’m going to believe that it is a sign from the Mayan gods that the world is indeed ending this year.


  • Zac Henderson

    We’re doomed. 

  • Robert Parker

    The apocalypse instructions have been downloaded.

  • Tor Ivan Boine

    why is it so important to say that it was shot on an iphone? all the frikking media is iphone this, iphone that. when in fact it has nothing to do with the story, photo etc. /rant over

  • 4wallz

    What? No StarGate fans out there?  This is clearly the transport beam from a Goa’uld Ha’tak vessel.

  • Mario Liedtke

    Glitch or Real Beam?

    It should be possible very easy to decide! Why?
    I tell you. He used an iPhone and therefor i guess that he didn’t used a tripod. He shot by hand. So he balanced the horizon manually. It wasn’t perfectly horizontal and vertical adjusted for the shot. This also means that a from-ground-to-space beam in 99,99% of all cases will NOT be photographed by hitting only the same columns of pixels in every row!
    (As english isnt my natural language, I hope to explained it well enough, and give another way to tell what I mean)So if the “beam-area” hit an exactly range on the sensor-layout like – compared to an excel-sheet: (D1:F200) – its a malfunction. If it strikes across a range it might be “real”.
    That depends on the architectural of a sensor and “overspeaking” of electrical signals in rare cases.

    So, if you have the original, not manipulated JPG-OOC you can check it. If already a software-based optimization – espacially horizontal correction – is done, it could be getting more difficult.

  • miklos

    If you look closely you can see kevin flynn escaping on his lightcycle…

  • Casey Myers

    Everyone knows that iphones have the only camera capable of capturing invisable Mayan laser beems!

  • dono

    lolol…  :)     mat24:36

  • youngdesign

    I’m going to share this photo totally out of the context of the article explanation… It’s much more fun that way.

  • Chris Vink

    Can we please change the title of this article to “Man Captures PHONE photo of..”

    I’m getting a bit annoyed by the fact that every single photo from an iphone is getting branded as an iphone photo. I don’t believe it’s that important, you could just put that sort of information in the article itself instead of using it as a populistic title..


  • B E. L

    Hell, why not “man captures photo”. Definitely agree with you here.

  • brlasonny913

    course, this totally ignores any possibility that there could be
    anything even slightly metaphysical going on here. And if that had
    occurred, the human bystanders wouldn’t have seen it with the naked eye
    either. But I’ve seen other “invisible” things similar to this that were
    caught on camera too.

    I don’t believe it’s any
    “glitch”. I believe that there really is a spiritual element of sorts to
    it. It’s too “coincidental” that it’s a pyramid. The connection between
    two worlds would be extremely strong there.

  • mrbeard

    whats up with the left side of the photo, its all blurred, a cloaking device on a landed UFO?

  • Zak Henry

    I understand (and agree with) the technical side of how it probably happened, however I am somewhat suspicious of the fact that the ‘beam’ ends exactly at the top of the pyramid. There is no reason why it shouldn’t go all the way to the bottom of the frame as it is caused by light bouncing inside the lens, which the pyramid cannot occlude. 

  • Zak Henry

    When I say suspicious I don’t mean I suspect anything ‘metaphysical’ is going on, I suspect post-manipulation

  • Adaird79

     if you look closely the top of the pyramid is slanted because of the perspective and the beam follows the slant of the pyramid at the base of the beam if it was a clitch why didnt it follow through the pyramid?

  • Alex

    Almost looks like it was shot from inside a window and the ‘beam’ is a reflection of nearby lights. 

  • D.G.

    I would agree except that noting it’s a camera phone (of any type) vs a normal camera makes a difference in this case.  CMOS sensors and CCD sensors work in different ways and are subject to different random effects.

  • D.G.

    One note is that the argument that people didn’t see the beam is a weak one.  Most sensors are sensitive to near-infrared for instance, which is why most cameras have a hot mirror filter.  Since a bright enough light can make it through a filter, an insanely bright near-IR source could make a beam visible that’s not visible to the naked eye.  In theory.  I say this, however, after just pointing a 120 lumen near-IR flashlight straight into my iPhone in a dark room and seeing nada :-P

  • duuude

    Guys… Come on, it is embarrassing that i have to point it out. PHOTOSHOP.

  • Just Visiting

    Sh#t, it’s already March… 2012!

  • Steve

     I think everyone knows that, don’t they?  It’s just more fun to believe it could be real.  The end of the world is predicted every year but people like to pretend it’s going to happen and act shocked when it doesn’t.

  • hayley sher

    steve jobs coming in for a landing

  • Sindigo

    “The intensity of the lightning flash likely caused the camera’s CCD sensor”
    Why call Photoshop? If you were to do that you wouldn’t make it perfectly vertical now would you.

  • sportsprophetone

    It has nothing to do with end of the world. The pyramid houses extra terrestrials and high forms of technology. It is simple ascension and decension in and out of earth. The beam is technology that we don’t understand.

  • D.G.

    Also, small correction to the article, iPhones don’t have a CCD sensor.


    glitch my ass

  • Ristossi

    The same problem occurs on video mode in Nikon V1 and J1. Check the video samples from those cameras posted on dpreview and you’ll see. Nothing new, common technical glitch on cheap sensors.

  • Oklob


  • Geoffrey Froment

    it must be a mirror technology or something like this

  • Guest

    Has no one else noticed the eerie storm & lightning bolt in the back ground…

  • Maggie

    So you hang this on the wall in your kids bedroom and tell them,” Behave you never know who’s watching you when Mom and Dad are not with you!” makes for a lifetime of guilt without the work!

  • marco

    looks like a science fiction-making

  • Sigh

    To everyone who thinks an iphone’s camera ( a TELEPHONES camera) is as good as any REAL camera is an idiot.

  • B E. L

    This link may be of interest: Consider also, the long count calendar of the Mayans is a cyclical calendar. There is a lot of hype about a 2012 doomsday, but Mayans believed the 21.12.2012 is the date we/they will be reunited with their gods, sparking a new level of consciousness. (This is for any doomsday’ers)

  • Jonathan Matthie

    I wish I could like this 100 times over.

  • Stickoutyourfacephotography

    Clearly this is Kirk beaming up.  Might check the release date for the new StarTrek.  

  • Zipperzonk

     if REAL=ANALOGIC then True
     else is a PAINT

  • ikibo

    maybe it is a IR light as phone cameras r sensitive (take a tv remote and you can see a light from your remote on mobile phone camera ) maybe is same thing only more stronger it will explain why  cant he see and why is captured on phone ?

  • Joperez

    This is called ‘Flash Banding’. It is due to the ‘rolling shutter’ found on CMOS sensors. Google it!

  • Henryk

    Yes, thank you! I’ve captured a similar image, incidentally also with a phone camera, while a flash was going off in the same room and am totally convinced that the artifact we’re seeing is due to the rolling shutter effect. But why does it take 2 days and 42 comments for someone to mention that here and why didn’t even “the guy from NASA” recognize that?

  • Anne

    so… they used an iphone to take a photo. of course there’d be snobby comments about how it’s not a real camera. god what an amateur, using an iphone camera to take a photo? OMG IKR??

  • Anne

    because everyone in NASA are just paid monkeys who believe the moon really exists.

  • Zipperzonk

     I say only that: every image is digitally produced, is not a photograph, rather it is more like a painting …

  • Maltfalc3000

     bingo. the camera was reading the light levels from one row of pixels at a time, scanning from one side to the other. as it neared the middle of the sensor, there was a bit of lightning which brightened up the sky just long enough to show up as a bright stripe. the lightning was behind the pyramid, so only the sky was brightened, so no visible stripe in front of the pyramid.

  • Yrenster

    iPhone has CMOS camera, not CCD.

  • Steve Coola ColaKid

    Only the NASA guy who wrote the explanation and about half a dozen other people, including myself. Apart from them, no.

  • Mike TheVet

    Yes, the lightning bounced the light directly over the pyramid, forming a perfect cylinder-type beam emitting from the CENTER of the pyramid.

    I’m just glad most of you don’t buy this crap. The media lies to us every day and this is just one little tid-bit. Is it the Gods? Not sure. Is it aliens? Not sure. Is it something they are trying to cover up? Absolutely. How else could they come to a conclusion so quickly? It’s either technology they know nothing about or it’s technology they operate on a daily basis.

    The bottom line is that “they” don’t want us to know. But WHY? God bless.