What was that in the sky Sunday? We’d like to know as well

A weather photo of what some suggest looks like a rocket being fired from the northern end of Whidbey Island has generated a fair amount of buzz online this week, including on the Whidbey News-Times Facebook page.

Just before 4 a.m. Sunday, June 10, the photo was taken by Skunk Bay Weather with a time-lapse camera from across Admiralty Inlet, in Hansville.

Yeah, it’s not a place we’ve heard of either, but that’s beside the point.

The fact that the image was taken with a time-lapse camera does leave the image open to speculation and broad interpretation.

Could the photo, which at first glance certainly could be a rocket shooting into the heavens over Whidbey, actually be a commercial airline, its icy contrail somehow illuminated by the early morning sun? Or, perhaps, as the website The Warzone said, is a distorted image of a helicopter?

The Navy on Whidbey said nothing was fired from the base, and the control tower saw nothing out of the ordinary at that time.

“There was no missile launch for NAS Whidbey Island,” said Navy spokesman Mike Welding.

Skunk Bay Weather operator Greg Johnson said he doesn’t know what the image shows, but is deeply curious and would like to know.

We’d like to know too. That’s why we published a story about it the front page of today’s News-Times. It’s worth a healthy public discussion, even debate.

On the News-Times Facebook, however, one commenter expressed his “disappointment” that the newspaper would post a link about the photo from the blog of University of Washington weather expert Cliff Mass.

The commenter said the paper should determine what the object is before posting the link.

That, however, makes no sense.

Days later, given that there’s still only speculation about what the photo shows — some going so far as to cast doubt on the Navy’s denial that it’s a rocket — we’re hoping that our coverage will help solve the mystery.

If not, the “rocket” photo is the sort of thing that urban legends and conspiracy theories are made of. And that is far worse than knowing the truth.