A crop circle, or in this case, a crop star?
Conspiracy theorists, start your engines: On the wind-blown steppes of central Asia, in an isolated corner of Kazakhstan, there's a large pentagram etched into the Earth's surface.
The five-pointed star surrounded by a circle, located on the southern shore of the Upper Tobol Reservoir, shows up vividly on Google Maps. There are almost no other signs of human habitation in the area; the closest settlement is the city of Lisakovsk, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) to the east.
What is this bizarre symbol, measuring roughly 1,200 feet (366 meters) in diameter, doing on the side of a desolate lake in northern Kazakhstan? Naturally, many online comments have already linked the site with devil worship, nefarious religious sects or denizens of the underworld.
Update: It's been explained:
Though it's difficult to discern from an aerial photograph exactly what the Kazakh pentagram is, Emma Usmanova, an archaeologist with years of experience working in the Lisakovsk area, has an answer.
"It is the outline of a park made in the form of a star," Usmanova told LiveScience. The star was a popular symbol during the Soviet era (Kazakhstan was a part of the former Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991). Stars were often used throughout the Soviet Union to decorate building facades, flags and monuments. (Several online comments had suggested the star shape was the abandoned site of a Soviet-era lakeside campground.)
The star in the Soviet-era lakeside park is marked by roadways that are now lined with trees, Usmanova explained, which make the star shape even more distinct in aerial photos. Additional images of the site, now abandoned and overgrown with weeds, can be seen at englishrussia.com.
Meanwhile, in the UK, crop circle appearances are slipping, along with quality.
This story was originally published on Seeded on Sat Aug 3, 2013 8:22 AM EDT (Live Science)