Mysterious 'Missile' Caught on Camera near Seattle

The "missile" captured by Greg Jonhson's night camera.   (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Skunk Bay Weather)

The "missile" captured by Greg Jonhson's night camera.  (Image credit: Greg Johnson/Skunk Bay Weather)

A mysterious object caught on camera near Seattle, Washington has people wondering if an unreported missile launch was conducted off the West Coast early last Sunday.  

Greg Johnson of Skunk Bay Weather shared the images to his Facebook page yesterday.

The images were taken by Johnson's night camera--a time-lapse device that captures images every 40-45 seconds with a 20 second exposure--on Whidbey Island, an island in Puget Sound just north of Seattle.  

Immediate speculation from Johnson was that it was a missile launched from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island.

"I feel strongly it was a missile launch," Johnson told Fox News affiliate Q13 out of Seattle.

Tom Mills, a spokesperson for the naval station, denied that the Navy facility was capable of launching such a missile.  

According to Mills, Navy personnel were also curious as to the cause of the unusual image.

"There's a lot of speculation around here," Mills said. "But it's definitely not a missile launch."

Johnson shared the images with Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, who posted them to his blog yesterday.

Mass ruled out certain natural phenomena such as a lightning strike or meteor, and stated that the object does appear to be a missile--despite the Navy's insistence that no such missile launch took place, and after confirming that no ships capable of such a launch were supposed to be in the area.

Tyler Rogoway of The Drive matched up an air ambulance helicopter's flight path with the camera in question, noting that the aircraft was in the area at the time the image was taken.

"The explanation of what you are seeing in the image is the helicopter moving away from the camera towards NAS Whidbey Island, just as it was tracked in the moments after the photo was taken," said Rogoway.

According to Rogoway, the image was distorted due to the time-lapse, which drastically elongated the helicopter as it flew away from the camera.

"This wasn't anything more exciting than a helicopter flying in a straight line in the wee hours of a quiet Sunday morning on the picturesque Puget Sound," he said. "Above all else, this photo serves as another reminder that sometimes there is much more to an image than what immediately meets the eye."

Tobias Wayland