'UFO' in police video excites alien fans despite not being a UFO

We've identified this not-flying not-object.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
Enlarge Image

Unfortunately, this is not a UFO.

Video screenshot from Broome Police/red arrow by CNET

The Twitter feed for the Broome Police in Australia is full of photos of confiscated alcohol and stolen bikes that need to be reunited with their owners. And, oh yes, there's one "UFO."

The Western Australian Police Force shared some CCTV footage on Twitter and Facebook this week of the town beach during a nighttime storm.

The video shows part of a parking lot, a tree, some bright flashes of lightning and a strange apparition that looks like a glowing triangle inside of a circle. The whole formation appears to fly off the corner of the screen.

"After reviewing CCTV at town beach of last night's storm, it appears we were not alone," the Broome Police said, posting a series of UFO emojis along with the message. The emojis appear to be a joke, but some UFO fans are treating the sight as a real UFO in online forums. "At first seeing the disk, I had doubts, but when this object lit up with a triangle within it ... I knew it was 100 percent real," prominent UFO enthusiast Scott Waring wrote on his sightings blog.

The most likely explanation for the bizarre sky specter is something director J.J. Abrams would appreciate: lens flare. If you look closely at the video, you'll see a vehicle backing up in the lower right-hand corner. Its movements coincide with the glowing formation.

UFO-debunking Twitter account ufoofinterest.org offers up a nice explanation in GIF form by pointing out the connection between the lens flare and the reversing lights.

The Broome Police have since gone back to tweeting bicycle photos, but the UFO tweet continues to draw attention. Let's just enjoy it for what it is: a cool optical effect and not a sign of alien visitation.

Yetis and UFOs and sea monsters, oh my! (pictures)

See all photos