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7 memorable UFO-inspired images from NASA and beyond

By: Katherine Butler on Aug. 7, 2012, 6:39 p.m.
UFO, space

Photo: Laurent Laveder/NASA

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Planet or people from space?

Sometimes, that bright object beaming into the night sky isn’t a star, or an airplane, or overzealous lighting from a movie premiere down the street. So what is it? This line of thought can lead to speculation that you might be looking at an object you can’t identify — or an unidentified flying object. Or it just might be Venus. One of the biggest culprits for night sky misunderstandings may be the planet Venus.


As you can see here, Venus is the brightest of all planets and often appears low in the horizon. This is the main reason the bright planet's appearance often elicits a number of 9-1-1 calls when it first comes into view. In fact, Venus is so bright that it can even cast a faint shadow on Earth. Finally, because of its intense flow, it can give the optical illusion that it is moving …. or following your car on a dark night.