Lights in the Sky over Portal

One of the questions I ask in photographing southern New Mexico and Arizona is "how do people see"?  I received the photograph below from a local resident on a recent hiking trip in the Peloncillo mountains.  She was taking a photograph of a particularly colorful sunset over the Chiricahua mountains and the image below is what her camera captured.  She was surprised at a number of round illuminated objects visible below the clouds in the colorful evening sky.  UFOs in the San Simon valley?  And not just one but a fleet of strange lights over Portal Peak.  Was the San Simon valley being invaded by strange beings from outer space?

While there are a number of stories about strange lights in the sky told locally, the overall darkness of the San Simon valley combined with the bright night sky (making the area a magnet for astronomers) would suggest that many of the lights observed were astronomical phenomena.  In this case the explanation is even simpler.  The photograph was taken from inside looking out through a glass window and the strange lights in the sky were in reality ceiling lights reflected off the glass.  While the photographer did not see the reflections  while composing the scene the camera did register the reflections and captured the reflections in her image, creating an unusual photograph.

While it is fun and interesting to discuss strange lights in the sky and the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the image captured does not support the notion that there are alien visitors from outer space in the San Simon valley.

unexplained lights in the sky
Cameras see differently than people (photograph by Patty S.)


  1. This is a great picture! If it would have been UFO's I would have been very disappointed that I did not see them.

  2. I agree, to have missed that many lights in the sky would have been disappointing. But it is not uncommon for me to be in bed at sunset.