Fact Check: That's NOT A Mystery Planet In FAA Weather Time Lapse Images -- It's Smear On Larsen Bay, Alaska, Camera Lens

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: That's NOT A Mystery Planet In FAA Weather Time Lapse Images -- It's Smear On Larsen Bay, Alaska, Camera Lens Dirty Lens

Did a Federal Aviation Administration weather camera capture images of a mysterious planet in the southern sky over Larsen Bay, Alaska? No, that's not true: Images taken at the same time at other FAA weather camera stations on Kodiak Island don't show a "mysterious planet in the southern sky," clearly indicating it is something on the lens of that specific camera and not something seen in the sky over the large Alaskan island. The circular camera lens blob regularly appears in images taken by one south-facing FAA weather camera on sunny afternoons in Larsen Bay.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) by the Facebook page The Confessionals on June 29, 2024. It was captioned:

Larsen Bay, Alaska. FAA cams. Images taken six days apart.
Text captioning on the video reads in part:
Mysterious Planet Object Caught on FAA
FAA Site Takes Down Footage Of Planet Like Object
Object also Spotted During Last Year's Golf Master's Event
Is This Some Benign Sky Anomaly Or A Glimpse Of An Interdimensional Planet X/Nibiru?

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Jul 5 17:19:49 2024 UTC)

This fact check will focus only on the images from Larsen Bay and not the Masters Tournament.

The date stamps on this video are blurry but it appears to show clips from 06/16/24, 06/22/24, 07/10/23 and 07/11/23. The images came originally from the FAA Weather Cam website, specifically from the south view weather camera at Larsen Bay airport on Kodiak Island in Alaska.

Lead Stories found additional conspiracy videos (pictured below) featuring images from this camera. A video (below left) titled, "Rotating Object - Larsen Bay (S) FAA Web Cam - March 12, 2024" posted on YouTube makes the flawed argument that this can't be a lens flare or water droplets. A video posted on TikTok using images from July 3, 2024, (below right) was posted on July 4, 2024, and shows the circular anomaly. The images in these videos appear to be authentic and unaltered; it is the interpretation of this circle as some sort of celestial object that is flawed.


(Source: Lead Stories composite image with YouTube and TikTok screenshots taken on Fri Jul 05 20:43:45 2024 UTC)

The FAA weather cameras in Alaska take a still image about once every 10 minutes, but the cameras are not synchronized with each other. The pictures in the composite image below were taken within minutes of each other, between 11:24 and 11:32 a.m. Alaska Daylight time (AKDT) on July 4, 2024. Not every weather camera station has four cameras facing the cardinal directions. Some cameras are positioned to face flight paths determined by the local terrain.

These images came from weather cameras across Alaska that were facing south or southeast. The screenshot in the top left corner shows the circle anomaly in the Larsen Bay south view. The image to its right shows the southeast camera from Karluk, another airport on Kodiak Island about 18 miles west of Larsen Bay. The top right corner shows the south view from Akhiok, about 40 miles south of Larsen Bay. The next four images are from other weather cams on Kodiak Island -- Kodiak, Ouzinkie, Port Lions and Uganik Bay. The final five images are from weather cams on the mainland of Alaska.

There is no mystery planet in the sky over Kodiak Island, just a dirty lens on the weather camera. Additional weather cam images from across Alaska yielded no images of a huge mystery planet in the sky.


(Source: Lead Stories composite image with weathercams.faa.gov screenshots taken Thu Jul 04 19:24:45 - 19:32:05 2024 UTC)

FAA weather cameras

The weather camera program was started by the FAA in 1999 to give pilots in Alaska an opportunity to see the real-time weather conditions where they were taking off and landing to plan accordingly. There are 230 FAA camera sites in Alaska, and 11 in Hawaii. The FAA weather cam site also uses weather images from third-party hosted sites around the country. More information about this can be found in an FAA webinar about the program. On the information page about the weather cameras, the FAA says:

Implementation of the weather camera service across the State of Alaska resulted in an 85% reduction in weather-related accidents and a 69% reduction in weather-related flight interruptions from 2007-2014.

The video posted on Facebook implied there is a cover-up. It showed a screenshot of an "image not available" notice, implying that the FAA took down the footage showing the planet-like object. This appears to be a misinterpretation of the weather camera system simply timing out. The website appears to hold six hours of images from a camera that can be played as a time lapse loop.

Lead Stories reached out to the FAA Weather Camera Program Office to find out if all images become unavailable after an amount of time has passed, and will update this article when we receive a reply.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks on claims including lens flares can be found here.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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