UFO Observed Over Washington DC?
Updated: 060108 - Views:

All content copyright © 2005-2009, B. Vanderkolk except as specifically credited to others.

On the evening of Feb 12, 2005, an image was posted on the Coast To Coast website that was a web cam image of the Washington Monument with a strange lighted object 'hovering' overhead and described as a UFO. A link was provided to the source website with several other screen captures of the same camera.


According to the website:

While doing maintenace on the inteldesk.com website, I noticed something odd about the Washington image feed, and queried further. Some screen shots were taken

A telephone call was placed  to NUFORC.org. Hotline 206-722-3000 .  The call was answered by the Director. Instructions were given to email the link, so that the image could be confirmed coming from the government webcam. located at http://www2.nature.nps.gov/air/WebCams/parks/nacccam/wash.jpg

The response from NUFORC:

> Dear Mr. Rea,
> Thank you very much for the telephone call, and for the link.
> That is an unusual object!  However, it might take a great deal of
> investigation to prove that it is an alien ship.  One possibility I believe
> we have to allow for is a military aircraft with bright lights.  However,
> that seems quite unlikely to me, given that the airspace above the capital
> is closed to most a/c.
> I will ponder the situation...
> Thanks, again, for sharing the information with our Center!

Well, I can guarantee you 100% that this is no alien spaceship. It is nothing more than a time exposure of an aircraft and its navigation lights. I would bet that if someone were to investigate they would find that at night this web cam takes exposures of several seconds.

How do I know? I have taken time exposures on aircraft on purpose while toying around with my new digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 4300. This camera is capable of taking long exposure shots of up to 60 seconds in length in bulb mode. I have included here a few example images. The camera was handheld during the exposures so the images are a bit blurry and shaky. In all the image the steady lights of the aircraft can be seen to make a long streak while the hazard strobes create specific dots along the streaks length.

These were NOT UFO's.

This final image is a 60 second exposure I took on the night of December 5th, 2004 to capture comet Machholz while it was near the Pleides star cluster. The camera was piggybacked on my telescope and I was visually guiding through the eyepiece on one of the star in the Pleides when an aircraft flew through my view. As can be seen in this image, the aircraft streaked across the entire frame.

UPDATE - New Images
After reading a few comments on various online forums referencing my webpage that commented on the blurring or shakiness of my original images, I decided to take some new images. All the images below are taken with the same camera as those above, a Nikon Coolpix 4300.

All images were taken with the following camera settings:
CAMERA : E4300V1.5
SHUTTER : 8.00sec
EXP +/-  : 0.0
FOCAL LENGTH : f24.0mm(X1.0)
DATE : 01.17.2005
QUALITY : 2272x1704 FINE

All images were taken February 17, 2005 between 6:30pm and 7:00pm Pacific Standard Time from the city of Stanton, CA. All aircraft were fixed wing aircraft observed to be flying into John Wayne International except the first two images was a helicopter going elsewhere. The images are presented in the order they were taken.

I did try taking video of the planes right after the time exposure image but the camera has very poor night performance at night and very little if anything could be seen in the videos.

To see the full size version, just click on the image. The only modification to the full size version is the addition of the copyright notice and resaved with a higher compression for space and download time considerations. They are otherwise unmodified.

Comments for each image are BELOW the image.

This is the first of two shots of a helicopter loitering in the area. Due to the higher than usual altitude, low speed, and the it's flight path in a lazy circle, I suspect it was a news helicopter checking something out in the area. The shots were taken almost straight up.

This is the second image of the news(?) helicopter. Note the strobes on both sides of the craft blinking four times each. If you look at the full size version at the top of the streak it almost looks like you can see the rotors flash-frozen in the exposure by the bright hazard strobes.

This shot was to the south of an aircraft moving from right to left. It's landing lights were on.

This image shows the aircraft's hazard strobe as well as its rotating red beacon.

This image looking ESE shows two aircraft. The top one was moving from right to left, the bottom from left to right. The bottom is lined up for approach to John Wayne.

This images is looking to the south-east. All that was captured by the camera was the hazard strobe. This makes it look like a row of evenly spaced dots with nothing connecting them.

This and the next photo without explanation could easily be misinterpreted as a UFO. The bright blob is that of an aircraft with its landing lights on and coming almost straight towards the camera. The slight movement from right to left as the plane started to turn (to its right) dimmed the light and stretched the blob.

Just as above, this is another shot of a plane coming right towards the camera with its landing lights on. This 'blob' is not the same aircraft as the above picture. The streak between the trees is the same aircraft as the above picture. The planes were coming from east towards the camera, lowered their gear turning on their landing lights, made a right turn (moving to the camera's left), then made a left-hand almost U-turn to align with the runways at John Wayne airport off to the left of the image.