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Friday, June 27, 2014

Brown Mountain Light -- Beer, that is

I found my Brown Mountain Light!

This Brown Mountain Light research never ends!  But I'll go to any length and leave no stone unturned in my efforts to seek out the facts.  So, yesterday, I made my way to the Olde Hickory Station in Hickory, NC---the site of the historic Hickory Tavern, where the first electric lights in Westen North Carolina were installed in 1888.  Soon thereafter, electricity spread to every city, town & community throughout the Catawba River valley and these were probably the first mystery lights seen & reported by the mountain residents in the early 1900s and which gave rise to the Legend of the Brown Mountain Lights.  And there's another connection to the Legend with this location---it sits immediately beside the raidroad tracks; yes, the very same first railroad in western NC that began operating in 1858.  It was this new & unexpected train that gave rise to the first authentic reports of mystery lights over the top of Brown Mountain---the Fate Wiseman story.  In fact, it was the lights from this early train that resulted in Wiseman's View on the western rim of Linville Gorge getting it's name---Fate Wiseman would sit there intently staring off into the distance waiting for glimpses of the mystery light (train headlight), so people began calling the spot Wiseman's View. 
 
Now for the good part---the beer is called 'Brown Mountain Light', brewed across the parking lot at the Olde Hickory Brewery!  I now have the 'proof' I've been lookin for!
 
 

Monday, June 23, 2014

BML Cam1 Jonas Ridge Camera for Apr 2014

The Brown Mountain Lights Research Team's BML Cam1 sits atop a house on Jonas Ridge and overlooks Brown Mountain 7 miles to the east. It has been running intermittently since February 2013.

Dr. Dan Caton, Professor and Director of Observatories, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State University (Boone, NC) installed and operates the camera as part of an on-going research project. Dr. Caton also installed and operates another research camera (BML Cam2) located at the southern end of Linville Gorge. The images from both cameras are compiled into nightly videos and posted on YouTube---just search "Brown Mountain Lights Camera 1" (or Camera 2) for the individual nightly videos. Both cameras are modified highly light-sensitive comet-hunting cameras, as evidenced by the frequent diffraction/over-saturation/lens flare features produced by overly bright lights.

To date, numerous lights have been recorded by Cam1, including: town/city/rural lights in the valleys beyond Brown Mountain, communication tower lights, airplanes and helicopters, highway-vehicle lights, off-highway vehicle lights, stadium lights, and back-country user lights. Natural lights captured by the camera include bright stars, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, the moon and lightning. Disappointingly, Cam1 has yet to record any support for mysterious or unknown lights in the Brown Mountain area.

BML Cam1 recorded 194 hours of nocturnal observation time on 21 nights during April 2014, resulting in 23,300 30-second time-exposure images.    This brings the totals over the past 15 months since start up in Feb 2013 to 2,016 hours of nocturnal observation time on 219 different nights resulting in 212,188 time exposure images.

The following images are selected to show some significant features. Note that the camera position does not change during this sequence of images.   Blurry or out-of-focus distant lights are caused by rising heat currents that distort the incoming light waves during the time exposures---lights that instantly flash on and off once produce sharp images.
 
Lens flare from the bright planet Venus
 
Airplane leaving Statesville Municipal Airport and lights from CMC-NorthEast Stadium in Kannapolis (79.6 mi away)
 
Forest fires on Brown Mountain
 
Forest fires on Brown Mountain
 
Ground fog/clouds on Brown Mountain
Note that all distant city/town/rural lights are blocked by the low clouds, yet several isolated spots & short lines of lights are still visible.  These are probably random hot pixels due to flaws in the camera's digital sensor. 
Such hot pixels are also evident when skies are clear
 
Unannounced staged light test by a team member who rode his motorcycle along FS Rd 4099. 
Also note lights from stadium in Kannapolis
 
Unannounced staged light test by a team member
who hiked to the top of Wildcat Knob with a headlamp
 
First of three-image-sequence showing a MedEvac helicopter heading for Lenoir's Hospital
 
Second of three-image-sequence showing a MedEvac helicopter heading for Lenoir's Hospital
 
Third of three-image sequence showing a MedEvac helicopter heading for Lenoir's Hospital. 
Helicopter, now with bright landing light, descends and lands at Caldwell Memorial Hospital
in downtown Lenoir at 11:44 pm. 
The helicopter leaves Lenoir at 12:07 am and flies back above Brown Mountain. 
Actually, the helicopter was probably east of Brown Mountain following
US Hwy 64 from Morganton to Lenoir or US Hwy 321 from Hickory to Lenoir
 
ATV lights on Brown Mountain
The Forest Service's Brown Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area
(34 miles of maintained ATV trails)
opened for the summer season on April 1, 2014,
but this is the first time we've seen nighttime activity on the mountain this year
 
ATV lights on Brown Mountain
 
Lenoir's Easter Cross has been turned off
Lenoir's seasonal Easter Cross atop Hibriten Mtn was shining nightly from Mar 5 until Apr 21, 2014. 
This is the same light structure lighted as a star duing the Christmas season
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

BML Cam1 Jonas Ridge Camera for Mar 2014

The Brown Mountain Lights Research Team's BML Cam1 sits atop a house on Jonas Ridge and overlooks Brown Mountain 7 miles to the east. It has been running since February 2013.

Dr. Dan Caton, Professor and Director of Observatories, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State University (Boone, NC) installed and operates the camera as part of an on-going research project. Dr. Caton also installed and operates another research camera (BML Cam2) located at the southern end of Linville Gorge. The images from both cameras have been compiled into nightly videos and posted on YouTube---just search "Brown Mountain Lights Camera 1" (or Camera 2) for the individual nightly videos. Both cameras are modified highly light-sensitive comet-hunting cameras, as evidenced by the frequent diffraction/over-saturation/lens flare features produced by overly bright lights.

To date, numerous lights have been recorded by Cam1, including: town/city/rural lights in the valleys beyond Brown Mountain, communication tower lights, airplanes and helicopters, highway-vehicle lights, off-highway vehicle lights, stadium lights, and back-country user lights. Natural lights captured by the camera include bright stars, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, the moon and lightning. Disappointingly, Cam1 has not recorded any support for mysterious or unknown lights in the Brown Mountain area.

BML Cam 1 recorded nearly 280 hours of nocturnal observation time on 28 nights during March 2014, resulting in nearly 33,500 30-second time-exposure images. The following images are selected to show some significant features. Note that the camera position does not change during this sequence of images. Blurry or out-of-focus distant lights are caused by rising heat currents that distort the incoming light waves during the time exposures---lights that instantly flash on and off once produce sharp images.
 
Lenoir's Easter Cross atop Hibriten Mtn was lighted from Mar 5 until Apr 22---this is the same light structure that the city of Lenoir lights as the Christmas Star every Christmas season.  These seasonal lights are clearly visible from the popular BML observations sites and make excellent staged light tests.
Another notable light tonight is the new bright light on the horizon south of Granite Falls that shined for about 3 hours, then suddenly went out at 10:19 pm.
 
First of 4 image-sequence showing a MedEvac helicopter with bright landing light flying north above the top of Brown Mountain and heading for Caldwell Memorial Hospital in Lenoir
 
Second of 4 image-sequence showing a MedEvac helicopter with bright landing light flying north above the top of Brown Mountain and heading for Caldwell Memorial Hospital in Lenoir
 
Third of 4 image-sequence showing a MedEvac helicopter with bright landing light flying north above the top of Brown Mountain and heading for Caldwell Memorial Hospital in Lenoir
 
Fourth of 4 image-sequence showing a MedEvac helicopter with bright landing light flying north above the top of Brown Mountain and heading for Caldwell Memorial Hospital in Lenoir.  Helicopter lands near downtown Lenoir at 10:38 pm and then leaves at 11:09 pm flying back above the top of Brown Mountian.  On the return flight, the bright landing light is replaced by much dimmer navigational lights.
 
New unexpected extremely bright light on the horizon south of Statesville airport starts at 8:25 pm, slowly brightens & inlarges, then slowly dissappears by 8:48 pm---perhaps a burning building?
 
Bright moonrise at 5:05 am (23% Wanning Cresent)
 
New unexpected very bright light just east of mountain ridge south of Lenoir---perhaps a brush or forest fire?
 
Venus in morning sky above Granite Falls
Note Lenoir's Easter Cross atop Hibriten Mtn is still lighted
 

Friday, June 20, 2014

BML Cam1 Jonas Ridge Camera (Feb 2014)

The Brown Mountain Lights Research Team's BML Cam1 sits atop a house on Jonas Ridge and overlooks Brown Mountain 7 miles to the east. It has been running since February 2013.
Dr. Dan Caton, Professor and Director of Observatories, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State University (Boone, NC) installed and operates the camera as part of an on-going research project. Dr. Caton also installed and operates another research camera (BML Cam2) located at the southern end of Linville Gorge. The images from both cameras have been compiled into nightly videos and posted on YouTube---just search "Brown Mountain Lights Camera 1" (or Camera 2) for the individual nightly videos. Both cameras are modified highly light-sensitive comet-hunting cameras, as evidenced by the frequent diffraction/over-saturation/lens flare features produced by overly bright lights.
To date, numerous lights have been recorded by Cam1, including: town/city/rural lights in the valleys beyond Brown Mountain, communication tower lights, airplanes and helicopters, highway-vehicle lights, off-highway vehicle lights, stadium lights, and back-country user lights. Natural lights captured by the camera include bright stars, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, the moon and lightning. Disappointingly, Cam1 has not recorded any support for mysterious or unknown lights in the Brown Mountain area.
BML Cam 1 recorded 115 hours of nocturnal observation time on 11 nights during February 2014, resulting in nearly 14,000 30-second time-exposure images. The following images are selected to show some significant features. Note that the camera position does not change during this sequence of images.  Blurry or out-of-focus distant lights are caused by rising heat waves that distort the light waves during the time exposures---lights that instantly flash on and off once produce sharp images.
 
Twilight illuminates the area and allows identification of Lick Mountain,
24.2 miles from the camera
 
Helicopter leaving Caldwell Memorial Hospital in Lenoir
 
 
 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

BML Cam1 Jonas Ridge Camera (Jan 2014)

The Brown Mountain Lights Research Team's BML Cam1 sits atop a house on Jonas Ridge and overlooks Brown Mountain 7 miles to the east.  It has been running since February 2013.
 
Dr. Dan Caton, Professor and Director of Observatories, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State University (Boone, NC) installed and operates the camera as part of an on-going research project.  Dr. Caton also installed and operates another research camera (BML Cam2) located at the southern end of Linville Gorge.  The images from both cameras have been compiled into nightly videos and posted on YouTube---just search "Brown Mountain Lights Camera 1" (or Camera 2) for the individual nightly videos.  Both cameras are modified highly light-sensitive comet-hunting cameras, as evidenced by the frequent diffraction/over-saturation/lens flare features produced by overly bright lights.
To date, numerous lights have been recorded by Cam1, including: town/city/rural lights in the valleys beyond Brown Mountain, communication tower lights, airplanes and helicopters, highway-vehicle lights, off-highway vehicle lights, stadium lights, and back-country user lights.  Natural lights captured by the camera include bright stars, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, the moon and lightning.   Disappointingly, Cam1 has not recorded any support for mysterious or unknown lights in the Brown Mountain area.
 
 BML Cam 1 recorded 265 hours of nocturnal observation time on 26 nights during  January 2014,  resulting in nearly 30,000 30-second time-exposure images.  The following images are selected to show some significant features.  Note that the camera position does not change during this sequence of images and that the distant lights are blurry or out-of-focus due to rising heat currents that distort the incoming light waves during the time exposures---lights that flash on and off instantelly leave sharp images.
 
Note that Lenoir's Christmas Star atop Hibriten Mtn is still lighted on Jan 1, 2014
 
Vehicle headlights reflected by fog along NC Hwy 181 on east side of Ripshin Ridge
 
Lenoir's seasonal Christmas Star atop Hibriten Mtn has been turned off
It was lighted from Nov 28, 2013 until Jan 7, 2014
 
Note low-flying airplane traveling south to north (right to left) disappears behind Brown Mountian
then reappears beyond the north end of the mountain---all caught on the same 30-second exposure!
 
Moonlight illuminates the ground
Note diffraction / lens flare effects of some bright city lights
 
Note lens flare reflections of bright city lights in a band across lower portion of image
Each faint light in the lower band can be traced vertically above to its respective parent bright light in the band of city lights across the upper portion of the image.  Thus these lights are due to flaws internal to the camera.
 
Ascending airplane takes off from Statesville Municipal Airport
 
Dust plumes from rock crushers at Martin Marietta quarry in Lenoir
 
Airplane with bright landing light heading toward the camera
Note visible diffraction lines / lens flares coming from the bright airplane light, as well as several city lights
 
 
 
 

BML Camera 1 Summary for 2013--112,000 images!


The Brown Mountain Lights research team's Camera 1 (BML Cam1) overlooks Brown Mountain from a house on Jonas Ridge seven miles to the west.  During 2013, the camera operated for 133 nights scattered over 8 months and recorded nearly 112,000 individual 30-second or 60-second time-exposure images representing nearly 1,200 hours of nocturnal observation time.  Time-lapse videos of each of the 133 nightly events were uploaded to YouTube with only a day or so delay each time, allowing the public to see and review the same information available to the research team.  Monthly summaries with selected annotated images have recently been posted on this blog.
 
 Dr. Dan Caton, Professor and Director of Observatories, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State University (Boone, NC) installed and operates the camera as part of an on-going research project. The camera is a modified highly-light-sensitive comet-hunting camera, as evidenced by the frequent diffraction/over-saturation/lens flare features produced by overly bright lights.

To date, numerous lights have been recorded by Cam1, including: town/city/rural lights in the valleys beyond Brown Mountain, communication tower lights, airplanes and helicopters, highway-vehicle lights, off-highway vehicle lights, stadium lights and back-country user lights. Natural lights captured by the camera include bright stars, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, the moon and lightning. Disappointingly, BML Cam1 has not recorded any support for mysterious or unknown lights in the Brown Mountain area.
 
Analyses of BML Cam1 for 2014 and BML Cam 2 (located at the south end of Linville Gorge) for 2013 and 2014 are underway and those results will also be posted here in the future.

Friday, June 13, 2014

BML Cam1 Jonas Ridge Camera (Dec 2013)

Brown Mountain Lights Camera 1 (BML Cam1) sits atop a house on Jonas Ridge, NC and looks east toward Brown Mountain.

Dr. Dan Caton, Professor and Director of Observatories, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State University (Boone, NC) installed and operates BML Cam1 as part of an on-going research project. Dr. Caton also installed and operates another research camera (BML Cam2) located at the southern end of Linville Gorge. The images from both cameras for 2013 and 2014 have been compiled into nightly videos and posted on YouTube---just search "Brown Mountain Lights Camera 1" (or Camera 2) for the individual nightly videos. Both cameras are modified light-sensitive comet-hunting cameras, as evidenced by the frequent diffraction/over-saturation/lens flare features produced by overly bright lights.

To date, numerous lights have been recorded by Cam1, including: town/city/rural lights in the valleys beyond Brown Mountain, communication tower lights, airplanes, highway-vehicle lights, off-highway vehicle lights, and back-country user lights. Natural lights captured by the camera include bright stars, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, the moon and lightning. Disappointingly, Cam1 has not recorded any support for mysterious or unknown lights in the Brown Mountain area.

The following selected image for BML Cam1 for Dec 1, 2013 has a 20-degree field of view (85-105 azimuths) with only the north end of Brown Mountain visible on the right edge of the image. The remaining images for Dec 2013 were taken with the same comet-hunting camera but the field of view was changed to 96-114 azimuths (18-degree enlargement) with Brown Mountain streaching nearly edge to edge in the image; NC Hwy 181 and the Brown Mountain Overlook are no longer
within the field of view.  Lenoir's seasonal Christmas Star was lighted from Nov 28, 2013 until Jan 7, 2014.
 
Annotations on the images are made by me. Note that distances in miles between the camera and the objects identified are given. Increased vehicle activity during the Fall hunting season was noticed on some of the back-country roads in the area around Brown Mountain; however hunting is not allowed on Brown Mountain itself since it is an off-highway-vehicle Recreation Area.
See other posts for additional identified lights from BML Cam1.
 

Note Lenoir's Christmas Star atop Hibriten Mtn and lights at the Brown Mountain Overlook on NC Hwy 181.
Diffraction and lens flares of a bright light in Lenoir produces the vertical line with spots of light.  Similar, but less-developed diffraction rays are also evident on other bright city lights.
 
Same Camera as before-, now with Telephoto View
Lights from Lenoir's Christmas Star, the Google Data Center and airplanes, as well as city/town/rural lights between Lenoir and Hickory are visible above Brown Mountain.

Airplane with blinking navigation lights visible in sky over Brown Mountain.
Lenoir's Christmas Star atop Hibriten Mtn is still lighted.
Reflected moonlight reveals Lael's Rock on west side of Brown Mountain, site of Ralph Lael's 1962 alien abduction episode
  
Airplane lands at Statesville Municipal Airport

Note lights from Google's Data Center in Lenoir, airplane in sky above Brown Mountain, and a MedEvac helicopter landing at theLenoir hospital. Although unmarked, Lenoir's Christmas Star atop Hibriten Mtn is also visible.
 
 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

BML Cam1 Jonas Ridge Camera (Oct-Nov 2013)

Brown Mountain Lights Camera 1 (BML Cam1) sits atop a house on Jonas Ridge, NC and looks east toward Brown Mountain.

Dr. Dan Caton, Professor and Director of Observatories, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State University (Boone, NC) installed and operates BML Cam1 as part of an on-going research project. Dr. Caton also installed and operates another research camera (BML Cam2) located at the southern end of Linville Gorge. The images from both cameras for 2013 and 2014 have been compiled into nightly videos and posted on YouTube---just search "Brown Mountain Lights Camera 1" (or Camera 2) for the individual nightly videos. Both cameras are modified light-sensitive comet-hunting cameras, as evidenced by the frequent diffraction/over-saturation/lens flare features produced by overly bright lights.

To date, numerous lights have been recorded by Cam1, including: town/city/rural lights in the valleys beyond Brown Mountain, communication tower lights, airplanes, highway-vehicle lights, off-highway vehicle lights, and back-country user lights. Natural lights captured by the camera include bright stars, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, the moon and lightning. Disappointingly, Cam1 has not recorded any support for mysterious or unknown lights in the Brown Mountain area.

The following selected images for BML Cam1 for Oct 2013 have a 50-degree field of view (74-124 azimuths) with Brown Mountain visible far in the distance.   The single image for Nov 2013 was taken with the same comet-hunting camera but has an enlarged 20-degree field of view (85-105) azimuths with only the north end of Brown Mountain showing on the far right side of the image.
 
Annotations on the images are made by me. Note that distances in miles between the camera and the objects identified are given. Increased vehicle activity during the Fall hunting season was noticed on some of the back-country roads in the area around Brown Mountain; however hunting is not allowed on Brown Mountain itself since it is an off-highway-vehicle Recreation Area.
See other posts for additional identified lights from BML Cam1.

 
Jupiter and Orion in the sky above Brown Mountain
 
Wanning Crescent moon (16%) produces diffraction/over-saturated effexcts with lens flare and rays.
 
Vehicle headlights on Forest Service Road 496
 
Enlarged View (85-105 field of view azimuths)
Lights of Taylorsville, Lenoir, airplanes, and vehicles on NC Hwy 181 and at the Brown Mountain Overlook.
Bright light in Lenoir produces vertical rays.
 
 

BML Cam1 Jonas Ridge Camera (Sep 2013)

Brown Mountain Lights Camera 1 (BML Cam1) sits atop a house on Jonas Ridge, NC and looks east toward Brown Mountain.

Dr. Dan Caton, Professor and Director of Observatories, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State University (Boone, NC) installed and operates BML Cam1 as part of an on-going research project. Dr. Caton also installed and operates another research camera (BML Cam2) located at the southern end of Linville Gorge. The images from both cameras for 2013 and 2014 have been compiled into nightly videos and posted on YouTube---just search "Brown Mountain Lights Camera 1" (or Camera 2) for the individual nightly videos. Both cameras are modified light-sensitive comet-hunting cameras, as evidenced by the frequent diffraction/over-saturation/lens flare features produced by overly bright lights.

To date, numerous lights have been recorded by Cam1, including: town/city/rural lights in the valleys beyond Brown Mountain, communication tower lights, airplanes, highway-vehicle lights, off-highway vehicle lights, and back-country user lights. Natural lights captured by the camera include bright stars, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, the moon and lightning. Disappointingly, Cam1 has not recorded any support for mysterious or unknown lights in the Brown Mountain area.

The following selected images for BML Cam1 Sep 2013 have a 50-degree field of view (74-124 azimuths) with Brown Mountain visible far in the distance. Annotations on the images are made by me. Note that distances in miles between the camera and the objects identified are given.  Increased vehicle activity during the Fall hunting season was noticed on some of the back-country roads in the area around Brown Mountain; however hunting is not allowed on Brown Mountain itself since it is an off-highway-vehicle Recreation Area.
 
See other posts for additional identified lights from BML Cam1.

 
Stars in the sky, including the constellation Taurus.
 
Jupiter and stars in the sky, including the constellation Orion
 
Mars and stars in the sky
 
Airplanes in sky above Brown Mountain
 
Faint light from a north-bound vehicle on Forest Service Road 198.
This is the graveled Chestnut Mtn road only open during the Fall hunting season each year.
Moonlight illuminates the landscape.
 
South-bound vehicle on Forest Service Road 198 (Chestnut Mtn Road)
  
Over-saturation, light ray and lens flares from bright moon (Wanning Gibbous--84%)
  
North-bound vehicle on Forest Service Road 496
  
Vehicle headlight on Forest Service Road 496