Image: Hector Siliezar, Gizmodo

Were the Mayans right?

When Hector Siliezar visited Chichen Itza, an ancient Mayan city, he took three photos of El Castillo on his iPhone. With a brewing thunderstorm, one of the images of the pyramid, which once was a sacred temple to the Mayan god Kukulkan, conveyed a sense of impending doom.

The first two images showed the pyramid cast in front of dark clouds. In the third (above, right), you can see a strong light beam shooting from the pyramid toward the heavens with lightning in the background. Siliezar recently told EarthFiles that nobody had seen the beam when he was shooting the photos.

The beam could be a sign of something more ominous, but a research technician and mission planner at the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University said it’s likely an iPhone glitch, a distortion because of the way cameras bounce incoming light. The image with the beam is the only one that has a lightning bolt in the background, and the bolt’s intensity could have caused the camera’s sensor to behave unusually, “either causing an entire column of pixels to offset their values or causing an internal reflection (off the) camera lens that was recorded by the sensor,” according to the technician.

Or it could be a sign the world’s coming to an end. Your call.