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Local astronomer weighs in on the mystery of the strange Castle Rock lights

Posted at 6:06 PM, Dec 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-07 21:31:05-05

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — The mystery of the “flying objects” in the skies over Castle Rock may have just been solved, and no, it does not involve aliens or interdimensional rods (sigh).

The video, showing two objects zoom across the screen and behind Rock Park hill, was captured early Monday morning by Denver7 Photojournalist Dominick Lee.

The video had many of us in the newsroom scratching our tin-foil hat-covered heads.

What were we seeing? Meteors? The beginning of an alien invasion? And many of you weighed in with theories on our Facebook page as well.

MORE | Take a look at the original story and watch the video (but don't laugh)

It took a phone call Thursday to the Denver Astronomical Society to bring us back down to Earth. Ron Hranac, president of the society, picked up the phone and agreed to take a look at the video.

As he viewed the clip, he immediately ruled out meteors. As he studied the video closer, the answer revealed itself: Lens flare.

Hranac said what Lee’s camera picked up was the headlights from cars zooming by on I-25. 

The phenomenon known as lens flare essentially tricks the camera into thinking it's picking up solid objects. It occurs when a bright light source enters the lens, does some crazy scattering and then manifests itself on the screen as an object, usually in the shape of the lens iris.

So, as we carefully placed our tin-foil hats back in our desks, we put to rest another mystery. But we're always ready for the next one.