Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Extraordinary explanations

Watch the peculiar video above, and pay attention to the wandering point of light that comes from the upper right to the bottom, when it suddenly splits, giving out a straight intense ray-like shoot. Now, what was that?

Was it an alien spaceship with a drunk driver expelling some excess fuel? Or rather a giant meteor braking up in the atmosphere, in low speed? Perhaps a ginormous insect firing a laser gun? Check below a graphic showing the intriguing trajectory and sequence of events:


If we had that video alone, perhaps people would be wondering for good what exactly that was. Luckily, that was not only captured by the previously mentioned UFOcapture software, it passed over Japan where a network of UFOcapture stations are active. It was simultaneously filmed by three different stations, distant many kilometers apart.

It was identified as to what it really was. The answer, plus some thoughts, after the jump.

First, without much ado, the answer. It was an insect. AND a meteor.

By an amazing coincidence, an insect passing near the camera was being filmed, and almost exactly at the right time and position, a meteor showed up. The insect and the meteor, of course, had no relation besides the sheer mind boggling coincidence that to that peculiar camera, the meteor seems to come out from the insect.

The other two videos of the same meteor captured miles afar don’t show anything bizarre, don’t have any wandering insect – or drunk spaceship driver – before or after the nice meteor show. You can check them here, and the UFOcapture software also triangulated the position and even computed the previous orbit of the meteor.


This is such a beautiful case, and a nice lesson for all of us interested in UFOs. Again, if there was only the original video, perhaps the more skeptical minds would suggest that that was just an insect and a meteor in a bizarre coincidence, but people would then object endlessly as to how absurd and unlikely, even “desperate”, that explanation could be.

Unlikely, yes. Absurd, perhaps. But in this particular case, that was exactly what happened.

As Spanish fellow Manuel Borraz, who called attention to this, put it, “when something is strange, very strange, we may resort without much fear to the improbable explanations”.

And by “improbable explanations” Borraz was not referring to alien spaceships or giant insects. But simply to prosaic things in extraordinarily improbable situations.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that we should be resorting to all sorts of bizarre coincidences to explain away everything, but we have to have in mind that before resorting to seemingly simple hypothesis that involve unproven assumptions, we must consider first the more complex ones, even though they may look improbable at first. We do know that insects and meteors exist.

Oh, this also teaches that the UFOcapture software is extremely valuable to UFO research. Once again, I must sound like salesman, but since the post about it, I came to know that besides the many astronomical setups around the world, there have been some initiatives focused in UFOs and the like, such as “Operation SURICATE” in France and Project Hessdalen (in Italy).

Roberto Labanti, from CIPH, also told me that a similar setup was responsible for recording the first “gigantic jet” over continental North America (PDF). By accident! James Bunnel, dedicated mainly to Marfa Lights research, didn’t realize what he had captured until Oscar van der Velde found the image in the Internet and called his attention to it. They’re co-authors of the published paper, along with others.

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Posted in Fortean,Science,Skepticism,UFOs | 4 comments

4 Comments so far

  1. Joseph Capp August 6th, 2008 3:05 am

    You guys made me laugh. You catch this one in a million shot and tout it out as a prime example of how we could get fooled. God that’s what we have to worry about people shooting flies and meteors together.

    What a disgrace to the thousands of professionals who have witnessed UFOs and had detailed sightings of craft. It was nothing like what I saw they were in the daytime I was with friend and they were flying saucers. So play with you lights in the sky folks. But you’ll miss the train.
    There is absolutely nothing extraordinary about technologically intelligent species… us …a Space Faring species us…a star aiming species…us. So examine like anything else which is…very very possible. You might have link to Ted Phillips and the MUFON team investigating the Marfa lights and catching unbelievable images of lights that are still a mystery and act intelligent. Thanks though for giving me a nice chuckle before I went to sleep.

    Joseph Capp
    UFO Media Matters

  2. Mori August 6th, 2008 3:21 am

    I did link Bunnel’s site, which defends an anomaly in the Marfa Lights.

    This is indeed a one in a million shot, Joseph. Now, how many photos are captured every day? More than a million, I suspect.

    But if you read the post, I didn’t propose we discard everything resorting to amazingly improbable coincidences.

    I simply advanced this example as a beautiful reminder that “sometimes ordinary things get caught in extraordinary circumstances”. Even insects.


  3. Buckwild January 28th, 2009 6:41 am

    Hi there,

    We “worked” on this video and we came to the same conclusion but we did not know that
    other cameras captured the event (meteor). Now, we know for a fact (with empirical data) that it was not due to a pyrotechnical device or two insects together (Odonates or Lampyris noctiluca)

    Here is an email I got from the IMO webmaster :

    I (also as an amateur astronomer) think you’re right… On the
    compound picture you can see the path of the “insect” continue
    downward, while the meteor appears in a nice and straight line.

    If meteors could be drunk, I think they’d look like this though…
    Seeing that with still a bit of a hangover from the newyear’s
    celebrations is a bit confusing :-)

    Lxx xxxxxxxx
    IMO webmaster

    Oh by the way, great website :)
    Cheers from France.

    Buck the wild.

  4. Brian October 10th, 2010 3:58 am

    Amazing….simply amazing…I posted a question about this video to another article (the one about the software used) asking what the heck this thing was. I must admit…It did cross my mind that it was perhaps 2 different objects which simply overlapped….but I thought this such an unlikely explanation that I didnt even mention it!!! LOL! now I wish I had!!! My other explanations, (which I admitted seemed wrong) were hot gasses escaping from the meteor, or that had a series of small explosions rather than one large one, which changed its trajectory (I dont think I went into all that detail, simply calling it an un-uniformed explosion, or words to that effect) But the truth…wow! Simply Amazing!!! This is an even cooler illusion than the so called “anti-gravity” helicopter that Im sure most of you have seen on YouTube, where the frame rate of the video matches the rotation of the rotor perfectly making the illusion that the blade is completely still while the heli is flying. Thank you so much for posting this!

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