Are these alien spaceships or angels in a historical religious painting? No. They are common symbolic representations of the sun and moon that signify the importance of the event. Sorry, conspiracists.
Not only is this particular conspiracy theory wrong, Gould says it’s actually pretty rude. The Eastern Orthodox tradition is based on codified, publicized and consistent beliefs. Under-the-table knowledge about the crucifixion being passed down and reappearing suddenly in art more than a millennium later, he says, is “pure fiction” inspired by Dan Brown novels: “It would be almost a cultural offense to the Orthodox church to believe such a thing, that the church would hide secrets in holy images.”