Fact Check

Does This Video Show a UFO in Kazakhstan?

Videos claiming to show UFOs or aliens in the sky are an ever-present phenomenon on social media.

Published Jun 20, 2023

 (Twitter user @IHuntUFOs)
Image Via Twitter user @IHuntUFOs
A video shared online in mid-June 2023 showed a UFO in Kazakhstan.

In mid-June 2023, a Twitter user shared a video supposedly showing an unidentified flying object, or UFO, in Kazakhstan.

Although the video was authentic and indeed recorded in Kazakhstan, it did not show an unidentified foreign object. Rather, the spaceship-looking object was an illusion created by light from Soyuz MS-22, a Russian spaceflight to the International Space Station that launched on Sept.  21, 2022. For those reasons, we rated this claim "Miscaptioned."

The video was taken in Balkhash, a city south of Kazakh Uplands, according to a cross-reference of elements in the video with Google Maps.

Based on our research, the oldest social media post with the in-question video was published on Sept. 25, 2022, four days after the launch. Users continued reposting the video the following month.

While it was unclear when, exactly, the footage was recorded, it likely depicted the immediate aftermath of Soyuz MS-22's launchconsidering the date the video first surfaced online (Sept. 25) and its filming location. Social media users shared similar videos seemingly documenting the same scene, though from different angles, on Sept. 21, the date of the launch.

On that day, as the capsule left Earth and orbited relatively close to it, similar videos of the spaceflight were recorded in various cities and shared by numerous Kazakh news websites.

Moreover, Yandex image-search results uncovered many photographs of a similar scene — a balloon-shaped light hovering over a city or residential landscape — on other occasions.

Those strange halos in the sky, visible both in the pictures above and the video in question, are likely a combination of a condensation trail and so-called twilight phenomenon that occurs when certain aircraft hover above Earth. The first term, according to the American Meteorological Society, refers to cloud-like streamers that form behind aircraft flying in clear, cold, and humid air, and the twilight phenomenon describes a visual effect caused by unspent fuel freezing in high altitudes. 

The video in question was previously mis-captioned as a video taken moments before the February 2023 earthquake in Turkey.

Videos falsely claiming to show UFOs or aliens are an ever-present phenomenon on social media. For instance, in 2017, a SpaceX rocket was mistaken for extraterrestrials in the sky, and, in mid-September 2020, we fact-checked videos that circulated on TikTok supposedly showing a UFO flying over New Jersey. In that case, the aircraft was an inflated Goodyear Blimp.


Gebhardt, Chris. 'Soyuz MS-22 Lofts Two Russians and One American to ISS'. NASASpaceFlight.Com, 21 Sept. 2022, https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2022/09/soyuz-ms-22/.

Roscosmos - Soyuz MS 22 - Lift Off - Launch Site 31/6 - Baikonur - September 21, 2022www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0xGRJGZUsw. Accessed 23 June 2023.

Кикина Может Побить Рекорд Пребывания Россиянок в Космосе - РИА Новости, 26.09.2021. 26 Feb. 2023, https://web.archive.org/web/20230226004623/https://ria.ru/20210926/rekord-1751839386.html.

tengrinews.kz. 'Неопознанный светящийся объект засняли в небе над городами Казахстана'. Главные новости Казахстана - Tengrinews.kz, 21 Sept. 2022, https://tengrinews.kz/kazakhstan_news/neopoznannyiy-svetyaschiysya-obyekt-zasnyali-nebe-gorodami-478438/.

Светящийся объект сняли на видео в небе над Астаной - el.kz. 21 Sept. 2022, https://el.kz/ru/svetyashchiysya-obekt-snyali-na-video-v-nebe-nad-astanoy-_50589/.

Неопознанный светящийся объект засняли в небе над городами Казахстана Вчера, 21:45 | Новости Казахстана и Мира. 21 Sept. 2022, https://newskz.press/novosti/novosti-almaty/neopoznannyi-svetiashiisia-obekt-zasniali-v-nebe-nad-gorodami-kazahstana-vchera-2145.html.

'SpaceX Rocket Launch Lights Up The California Sky, Freaks Out Some Residents'. Colorado Public Radio, https://www.cpr.org/2017/12/23/spacex-rocket-launch-lights-up-the-california-sky-freaks-out-some-residents/. Accessed 23 June 2023.

Shepherd, Marshall. 'The Twilight Effect: Is That What People Saw After The SpaceX Rocket Launch?' Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/marshallshepherd/2017/12/23/the-twilight-effect-is-that-what-people-saw-after-the-spacex-rocket-launch/. Accessed 23 June 2023.

'Twilight Phenomenon Lights up Sky'. Air Force Space Command (Archived), https://www.afspc.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/251865/twilight-phenomenon-lights-up-sky/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.afspc.af.mil%2FNews%2FArticle-Display%2FArticle%2F251865%2Ftwilight-phenomenon-lights-up-sky%2F. Accessed 23 June 2023.

Editorial, YouTurn. 'Was This Video Taken Moments before Earthquake in Turkey ?' You Turn, 13 Feb. 2023, https://en.youturn.in/factcheck/strange-light-in-sky-video.html.

https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/us6000jllz/executive. Accessed 23 June 2023.

'People in L.A. Thought Last Night's SpaceX Launch Was Aliens'. Time, 23 Dec. 2017, https://time.com/5078397/spacex-los-angeles-aliens/.

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.

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