Wednesday, December 11, 2013

10Dec13 Photography from Wiseman's View

Last night's photography from Wiseman's View produced some more interesting images of distant city lights, stars, and airplanes---but no mystery lights!

Lenoir and Taylorsville City Lights
Communication Tower light & Lenoir's Christmas Star on Hibrighten Mtn
Azimuths (in degrees) and distance (in miles) shown for selected features
Tripod-mounted Canon REBEL DSLR T3i camera with 105-420 mm zoon lens set at 287 mm, f/7.1, ISO-800, 30 sec
Distant City Lights over Brown Mountain
Tripod-mounted Canon REBEL DSLR T3i camera with 18 mm lens, f/4.5, ISO-800, 15 sec

Hawksbill Mtn with Stars and Distant City Lights
Tripod-mounted Canon REBEL DSLR T3i camera with 18 mm lens, f/4.5, ISO-800, 61 sec
Hawskbill Mtn with Staged Hiker's Light, Airplanes, and Stars
Four airplanes, one with bright landing light, and short star trails in skies over Hawksbill Mtn
A small white hiker's light from a friend of the photographer,
was staged on the skyline in the middle of Hawksbill's summit
Tripod-mounted Canon REBEL DSLR T3i camera with 105-420 mm zoon lens set at 105 mm, f/5.6, ISO-800, 33 sec

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

18Nov13 Forest Fires, Bright Moon Rise, Car & City Lights

Last night's observation from Wiseman's View was both interesting and informative.  The recent Table Rock fire which started a week ago and has now burned nearly 2,500 acres on the east rim of Linville Gorge, is nearly out with only a few tiny isolated spot fires remaining.  However, some folks at the overlook last night were hoping to see vast large fires and dismissed the remnant spot fires as the usual BMLs!  At least the large crowds provided the opportunity to photography vehicle headlights on NC Hwy 105 on the west rim of the gorge.  In addition, the bright rising moon over Hawksbill Mountain was spectacular.  Most of my photos should be enlarged to see the finer details.
Distant Lights of Taylorsville, 41.5 mi
Azimuth 88O from Wiseman’s View
Taylorsville is the dim horizontal band of lights immediately below the far skyline in the center of the image
Two communication tower lights are visible on Hibriten Mtn (89O azimuth) on right side of image:
1)       The usual blinking white light on the tall tower north of the summit; and
2)       A new red light on a tower on the summit
City Lights of Lenoir lie above and beyond Brown Mountain (the flat ridge in the foreground)
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR with 420 mm lens at f/8, 1 second exposure & ISO-400
Lights of Hickory 31 miles beyond north slope of Table Rock Mountain
Azimuth 111O from Wiseman’s View
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR with 138 mm lens at f/7.1, 2 second exposure & ISO-1600
Small Isolated Forest Fire on Flanks of Table Rock, 1 mi distant
Azimuth 135O from Wiseman’s View
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR with 420 mm lens at f/8, 47 second exposure & ISO-3200
7 Small Isolated Forest Fires on Flanks of Table Rock
Table Rock is Azimuth 13O from Wiseman’s View
The largest spot of fire in the center of the image is enlarged in photo 5178
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR with 18 mm lens at f/4.5, 60 second exposure & ISO-1600
Vehicle Headlights on North Flank of DogBack Mountain
Azimuth 185O from Wiseman’s View
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR with 18 mm lens at f/4.5, 6 second exposure & ISO-1600
Vehicle Headlights on North Flank of DogBack Mountain
Azimuth 185-191O from Wiseman’s View
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR with 55 mm lens at f/5.6, 14 second exposure & ISO-1600
Moon Rise Over South Flank of Hawksbill Mountain
Azimuth 75O from Wiseman’s View
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR with 18 mm lens at f/4.5, 60 second exposure & ISO-200
Moon (bright white) with Unique Lens Flares
Azimuth 75O from Wiseman’s View
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR with 420 mm lens at f/8, 1 second exposure & ISO-400
Moon (bright white) with Unique Lens Flares
Azimuth 75O from Wiseman’s View
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR with 294mm lens at f/7.1, 1 second exposure & ISO-400

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Forest Fire in Linville Gorge---how's that for nocturnal lights!

Yesterday (Tuesday, 12Nov13) a forest fire burned on the east rim of Linville Gorge immediately south of Table Rock.  I photographed it from Wiseman's View on the west rim of the gorge from 8:37 pm until 9:13 pm when the howling winds and cold temps drove me back to the car.  Winds of 25-40 mph with much higher gusts fanned the fire and made tripod-mounted time-exposure photography difficult.  Fall's recently dropped dead leaves undoubtly added fuel to the fire.

Forest Fire on East Rim of Linville Gorge
The image shows the forest fire immediately south of Table Rock, an airplane light streak in the sky above Table Rock, the constellation ORION in the sky through the tree branches, and the lights of Lenoir & vicinity over the top of Brown Mountain in the distance.

Forest fires and brush fires were first mentioned as possible sources of BMLs in George Mansfield's 1922 USGS report.  While fires as large as this one are not likely to be mistaken for mystery lights by many folks, smaller ones such as campfires probably can be.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Catawba Valley Lights, Moon & Venus

My photography from the NC 181 Overlook tonight produced some more interesting images; however no mystery lights were seen.  All photos were taken with a tripod-mounted Canon REBEL EOS DSLR camera with either a Canon 105-420 mm  telephoto zoom lens or a Meade ETX-125 1,900 mm 5" mirror reflecting telescope.

60% Waxing Gibbous Moon
Catawba Valley city/town lights, view looking southeast
Brown Mountain is the dark tree-covered ridge slopping to the right in the foreground

Baker Mtn, 32 mi distant & communication towers on far horizon
Brown Mountain is the flat top, tree-covered ridge in the foreground

Single flashing white orb atop communication tower on Hibriten Mtn, 20 miles distant.
Adams Mountain lies directly in front of Hibriten Mtn
Note airplane light streak in the sky and two small red orbs stacked vertically on a smaller communication tower to the left of the white orb
The north slope of Brown Mountain can be seen in the lower right corner of the image

Venus above Hawksbill Mtn, east rim of Linville Gorge

Venus setting through trees on ridgeline north of Hawksbill Mtn
on east rim of Linville Gorge
Note short star trail in sky above

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Staged Light test Nov 4, 2013

On Monday night, November 4, 2013, our BML Research team conducted another radio-assisted staged light test on Chestnut Mountain.  I manned cameras at the NC Hwy 181 Brown Mountain Overlook while a pickup truck drove FS Rd 198.  The staged lights were only visible to the naked eye at one spot along the road, approximately 1.9 miles from the 181 Overlook.  Image 4832 shows our staged light.  This road is a popular destination for bear hunters & bear season recently opened in the area.  Other lights in the image are stars in the sky and distant communication tower and house lights.

Staged Light Test on Chestnut Mtn
Looking northeast from NC Hwy 181 Brown Mountain Overlook
The small white light below the skyline on lower flanks of Chestnut Mtn
is  520-lumen battery-powered handheld spotlight on FS Rd 198,
approximately 1.9 mi from the camera
The 8% Waxing Crescent Moon setting over east rim of Linville Gorge
 Looking southwest from NC Hwy 181 Brown Mountain Overlook

House Lights on Jonas Ridge
Looking northwest from NC Hwy 181 Brown Mountain Overlook
Prominent colored light streaks across center of image
are those of a large delievery truck heading north on NC Hwy 181
The skyline lights are from houses in the Gingercake Acres community along NC 1265

City/Town Lights in Catawba Valley beyond Brown Mountain
Looking southeast from NC Hwy 181 Brown Mountain Overlook
The lights of Valdese and Drexel between 125 & 140 azimuths are visible
The blinking navigation lights of an airplane are visible in the sky


Monday, October 28, 2013

Yes they are real!

What are the BMLs?  Are they Real?
Yes, they are real!  But in order to say that, we have to come up with a definition that excludes all post-observational interpretations.  Thus the following definition is based on the original observers’ on-site, real-time interpretation, not someone else’s subsequent interpretation:  A BML is any nocturnal light, seen in the vicinity of Brown Mountain, with an origin that is unknown to the observer at the time of the observation
A BML is any nocturnal light, seen in the vicinity of Brown Mountain,
with an origin that is unknown to the observer
at the time of the observation

This definition is purposefully broad to include all sightings by everyone who has seen lights that they identified as unexplained in the area since the late 1800s.  It is the assumed or presumed unknown origin that makes the lights mysterious in the first place.  Each person's sighting is real and significant to them and none are dismissed as not-real.  Since the distinction of 'unknown origin' is the determination of the observer, then all lights visible in the area must also be BMLs!  Let me explain.

Eye-Witness sightings
Every light visible in the area of Brown Mountain probably has been called a mysterious unknown-origin light (in other words a BML) by someone either recently or in the past---remember it is left up to each individual observer to label the light they saw as explained or unexplained.  Over the past two years, our research team has amassed a vast collection of BML eyewitness descriptions, both recent and historical.  Although these descriptions are often conflicting and vary greatly in the details of what was seen, none can be dismissed, even those that can be easily identified by others as misinterpretations of normal lights.  It is clear from these varied descriptions that people are not always seeing the same thing, but rather they are seeing a large number of different light phenomena; none of which should be rejected as not real.  Certainly for many observers their sighting was not only memorable, but also unique, fascinating, and in some cases, life-changing. Therefore, to include all mystery light sightings as BMLs, the definition given above is based on the observers' characterization of the light as having an 'unidentified-origin'.  However, just because a light is unknown to an observer doesn't mean that light is also unknown or unknowable to someone else.

The difference between an identified light and a mystery light
is often the difference between an informed observer
and an uninformed or misinformed observer

Identification of Light Origins
While misidentification of lights plays a major role in the Legend of the BMLs, observation of lights defying easy explanation also plays a role.  The difference between an identified light and an unidentified light is often the difference between an informed observer and an uninformed or misinformed observer.  One person’s BML is another person’s street light.  One person’s BML is another person’s flashlight, or communication tower light, or airplane, or campfire, or car headlight, or firefly, or International Space Station, or planet, etc.  And yet some lights defy all attempts to identify them by scientific or scholarly investigation.  However, those lights that seem to defy scientific or otherwise scholarly explanation are generally from sightings that lack sufficient details to classify them as anything; as a result those lights are temporarily listed as 'unclassified' until such time that their actual origin might be determined.

To know the BMLs, First Know the Observer
The level of one's nighttime outdoor experience, familiarity with nature, supernatural beliefs, and understanding of science vary greatly amongst observers, yet each of these plays a major role in how an observer interprets what they see.  As expected, an informed observer is much less likely to misinterpret what they see, while an uninformed or misinformed observer is more likely to misinterpret what they see.

Don't Mess With my BMLs
Everyone enjoys a good mystery and the desire to believe in unexplained or unexplainable lights is strong and even highly emotional for many people.  In fact, most people aren't receptive to hearing something that threatens their beliefs, favorite mystery, or opinions.  "I know what I saw, and it wasn't a manmade light" and "Some things just can't be explained" are common reframes from those unwilling to give up the mystery, or to even consider alternatives.  On the other hand, there are those who sincerely believe they witnessed aliens, UFOs, disembodied spirits, ghosts, secret government projects, or otherwise unexplained paranormal phenomena.  To everyone, no matter what you believe, the BMLs are real!  It's just our interpretations of what we see that differ.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Best photo of Blue Ghost Fireflies

This 4-hour time exposure is perhaps the best image of the elusive Blue Ghost Fireflies (BGFs) I've ever seen!  It was taken by professional photographer Spencer Black on June 8, 2013 at Dupont Forest State Park near Hendersonville, NC.  Black, from Asheville, NC is well known for his very-long-exposure night time photography, which is exactly the skill needed to photograph the rare BGFs.

The BGFs do not flash like the more-common yellow-blinking fireflies; instead they burn continuously for 10 seconds to two minutes while flying up to 200 feet horizontally just above the forest floor.  The human eye detects the dim light of the BGF as white or bluish white (thus the name Blue Ghost Fireflies), while the camera records the light as yellowish green.  Only the rods in the human eye detect faint light, the cones of the eye cannot; thus color is not precieved when looking at BGFs----it takes both the rods and the cones working together to precieve color.  The camera captures the true color.  The same phenomenon occurs with astronomers who see only white (or bluish white) stars through the telescope, while a camera attached to the telescope records the true colors.

Looking at the photo, imagine how dark the forest must have been as it took the camera lens 4 hours to capture even this much light!  In addition, probably only a few BGFs were active during the 4 hr exposure; i.e., an observer may have seen only a small number of fireflies at any one time.  Now imagine yourself alone and deep in the woods on a very dark night and seeing a few of these lights moving amid the trees and brush---if you didn't previously know what the BGFs were, you could easily be mystified by the lights.  Given the behavior of the BGFs as highly sensitive to light  (turning off when you turn on a flashlight & only coming back on when your turn your light off) and sensitive to air vibrations (turning off when you walk toward them & turning back on only when you stop moving)----one can easily understand how some uninformed observer can mistakenly think the lights are interacting with them (as in 'intelligent behavior').  We have some anecdotal stories of observers seeing lights that perfectly match those of the BGFs, including stories of some folks who were so terrified of the lights that they ran away or climbed trees to get away from them!  And one observer on Brown Mountain in the early 1960's apparently intrepreted the lights as benovelent beings from Venus and allowed himself to be abducted!

Our research team has verified the existence of BGFs in this area of western NC.  We have seen & collected them at Wiseman's View (7 miles west of Brown Mountain) and Buck Creek Gap (25 miles northwest of Brown Mountain).  In addition, they have reportedly been seen on the east rim of Linville Gorge (5 miles west of Brown Mountain), on Harper's Creek (about 5.5 miles north of Brown Mountain), on North Muddy Creek (about 12 miles southwest of Brown Mountain), at the Highway 181 overlook (3 miles northwest of Brown Mountain) and on Chestnut Mtn (2.5 miles north of Brown Mountain).  We hope to confirm their presence on Brown Mountain this coming spring.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Views from Table Rock 16Oct13

Photography taken from the top of Table Rock last night

Light wind, heavy clouds, and dense haze from high humidity hampered photography last night (16Oct13) from the top of Table Rock (east rim of Linville Gorge).  Numerous hunters were encountered on the access roads and in the parking lot, while 11 campers were found at the summit itself.  Lights from both groups probably could be seen from some of the other popular observation sites; thus anyone out looking for BMLs should be aware of the possibility of the increased present of back-country users at this time of the year.

Hickory, NC City Lights
Clouds slightly illuminated by the moon (hidden behind clouds in upper left corner of photo)
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS REBEL T3i camera w/ 18-50 mm zoom lens
12 second time exposure, ISO-100, f/3.5

Hickory, NC City Lights
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS REBEL T3i camera w/ 75-300 mm zoom lens and 1.4X tele converter
10 second time exposure, ISO-100, f/7.1

Google Data Center building, Lenior, NC
Long row of dim lights just left of center of image; Brown Mountain in foreground
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS REBEL T3i camera w/ 75-300 mm zoom lens and 1.4X tele converter
5 second time exposure, ISO-100, f/8
Stealth Campsite w/ rock fire ring at Little Table Rock
This is the campsite visible in the 29Jul13 photo # 4384 nightime image showing campfire and light
Campsite is at the end of a razorback ridge well below the summit 
and on the southwest side of Table Rock---many folks call this Little Table Rock
N 35.89027; W 81.88752
 Canon EOS REBEL T3i camera w/ 18-50 mm zoom lens
ISO-160, f/3.5

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lights on Table Rock from Wiseman's View 21Aug13

Camper & hiker lights atop Table Rock were photographed last night (21Aug13) from Wiseman's View. 

Hiker light on access trail to summit of Table Rock
Enlarge image to see single white light near right side of photo
Tripod-mounted Canon REBEL EOS T31 camera w/ 75-300 mm zoom lens and 1.4X tele converter
60 second time exposure, ISO-100, f/9

Camper lights on Table Rock
Enlarge image to see single white light & orange camp fire near right side of photo
Tripod-mounted Canon REBEL EOS T31 camera w/ 75-300 mm zoom lens and 1.4X tele converter
120 second time exposure, ISO-100, f/9
 Compare the 21Aug13 images above with this one below taken on 25Jul12 by Alex Glover of our BML research team.  Alex captured the lights of two of our hiking team members as they climbed the access trail to the summit of Table Rock.  The lights they were carrying are shown for comparisons.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What Have We Learned So Far about the Legend of the Brown Mountain Lights?

In spite of numerous published, but never referenced, and thus unconfirmed, stories to the contrary, the Brown Mountain Lights (BMLs) were not seen by native Americans, or anyone else before the days of electricity in the area.  Instead, the original Legend of the BMLs first arose in the 10-30 years immediately after residential electricity first arrived and then quickly spread throughout the populated valley communities to the south of Brown Mountain.  Electricity first arrived in Hickory in 1888 and spread throughtout the surrounding communities by 1900, while the Legend itself actually originated between 1900 & 1922.  Seems the unsuspecting mountain residents, who did not yet have electricity, simply were unaware of just how far electric lights could be seen at night and misintrepreted the distant manmade lights for mysterious supernatural lights.  Over the next 100 years, the Legend has morphed several times as it slowly became obvious to everyone that manmade lights in Catawba Valley were highly visible at night from the higher mountains west and northwest of Brown Mountain.  Today the Legend no longer focuses on distant lights seen over the top of Brown Mountain (town and city lights of Catawba Valley), but instead focuses on less easily identified lights in areas surrounding Brown Mountain, such as those seen in Linville Gorge.  These newer unknown lights are probably due to back-country users such as campers, hikers, rock climbers, hunters, fishermen, forest rangers and maintenance personnel, sightseers, and pranksters.

 Over the last 100 years, many different theories have been proposed to explain the BMLs

However, after 18 months of serious investigations, I've found only a few phenomenon that actually produce nighttime lights in the area;
however, these probably explain the all of the reported mysterious BMLs
IMHO, the vast majority of mysterious lights seen since 1900 are manmade lights, specifically electric lights.  While a tiny percentage of mistaken lights might be due to Blue Ghost Fireflies, celestial bodies (sun, planets, stars, etc), lighting (ball lightning &/or heat lightning), and possibly swamp gas (not yet confirmed on Brown Mountain).  Of course a tiny percentage of unexplained lights also exists---mainly due to the lack of sufficient factual details recorded by overly-excited observers.

The Legend of the Brown Mountain Lights will continue to exist as long as people cling to unfounded supernatural beliefs and ignore factual evidence to the contrary. 
Additional morphs of the Legend are to be expected.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Moon Rise over Brown Mountain July 24, 2013

Moon Rise over Brown Mountain July 24, 2013
The 85% Waning Gibbous Moon (the Full Moon was two days ago) approximately 54 minutes after moon rise on July 24, 2013. Table Rock on the east rim of Linville Gorge can be seen on the skyline on the right side of the image. Brown Mountain is the nearly-flat ridge in the middle distance. City lights is the valleys east of Brown Mountain are visible.  This wide-angle, two-minute time exposure was taken from Wiseman's View on the west rim of Linville Gorge.
Canon REBEL EOS DSLR camera, ISO-100

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Photography from Bear Rocks on Brown Mountain

July 16-17, 2013 Observation

On Tuesday, July 16, 2013, Cato Holler and I hiked to Brown Mountain and camped in the Rock City boulders (Devil’s Hole) area on the uppermost part of the north slope of the mountain.  Our purpose for the trip was to check for bioluminescent fireflies and glow worms.  Unfortunately only a few fireflies and no glow worms were seen.  Otherwise, we did get some neat photography!

We parked in Chestnut Gap along FS Rd 982 (Mortimer Road) and hiked south the 3 miles along FS Rd 4099 (Little Chestnut Mountain Road), then ½ mile up the connector trail to the summit of Brown Mountain.  We arrived about dark and set up camp within the large boulders of Rock City.  Afterwards, we hiked to Bear Rocks (approximately 1 mile by trail) where we photographed runnels, distant lights, skylines and planes.  For proper orientation, Bear Rocks is an area of very large exposed rocks on the northwest side of Brown Mountain at coordinates 35.91654O N and 81.76766O west.  Bear Rocks also includes Bear Cave, an approximately 50 ft X 100 ft maze of covered passages including a through going passage that some ATV enthusiasts ride their motorcycles through.

A careful search of Bear Cave failed to find any glow worms, and only a few fireflies were seen during our time on the mountain.  The lack of fireflies was particularly puzzling given our recent find of multiple fireflies at Wiseman’s View.  More investigation is planned.

Weather and Moon
The weather was typical mid-summer hot and muggy with afternoon temperatures up to 90OF and nighttime lows approximately 68OF.  Recent heavy thunder storms had every stream and drainage flowing with water.  Although yet another storm blew past to the north just as we started our hike, we were spared any rain and enjoyed a partly cloudy sky.

The 53% Waxing Crescent moon rose about 2:30 pm and by sunset was nearly overhead.  After dark, the moon was only occasionally blocked by clouds. 

Equipment used
A tripod-mounted Canon EOS REBEL T3i DSLR camera with an 18-55mm zoom lens was used.


Big Foot Found on Brown Mountain!

OK, maybe not! 
Image 4007 shows typical erosion runnels on the exposed granite at Bear Rocks. 
The 3 individual channels join down slope to form a single channel. 
Although at a vastly different scale, the runnels are somewhat reminiscent of the headwater drainages of a mountain stream, with all runoff flowing into a single channel. 
For the proper scale perspective, the small dark circular spot between the ends of the two closest runnels is a US quarter.
Jonas Ridge House Lights from Bear Rocks
Here the tripod-mounted camera is set atop Bear Rocks looking west-northwest toward Jonas Ridge. 
Gingercake Mountain is the high point of the skyline ridge on the left side of the image. 
Our BMLCam1 is located at one of the houses within the row of lights just to the left of center of the image. 
Careful inspection of the image shows a dim light illuminating the NC Highway 181 BML Overlook on Rip Skin Ridge to the right of the center of the image and between the two rightmost bright lights. 
Moon light reflecting off leaves on trees less than 100 feet in front of the camera can be seen in the foreground. 
The moon is located beyond the upper left corner of the image.
f/5.6, ISO-400
Airplane over Brown Mountain
Image 4018 is a half-minute time exposure taken from Bear Rocks of a particularly bright light from an airplane approaching high over head from the north. 
The camera is facing north and the airplane traveled from the bottom to the top of the image during the exposure. 
The stars are those in the basin of the ‘Big Dipper’ constellation. 
Apparently the plane’s landing light was on and produced the lighted flight path. 
To the naked eye, no flashing navigation lights were visible. 
However, careful inspection of the photograph clearly shows the flashing navigation lights on either side of the bright streak.
No sound was heard until the airplane was nearly overhead, at which time the typical rumble of a distant airplane was heard.
f/5.6, ISO-400
View Toward Linville Gorge from Bear Rocks
Image 4017 is a 2-minute time exposure looking west from Bear Rocks. 
Table Rock is the prominent flat top peak on the skyline to the left while Hawksbill Mountain is the prominent skyline peak to the right. 
Laurel Knob is the dark skyline high point near the center of the image. 
Wiseman’s View is located near the base of Laurel Knob and near the center of the image. 
Table Rock and Hawksbill are on the east rim of Linville Gorge, while Laurel Knob and Wiseman’s View are on the west rim. 
Star trails are visible in the sky above the mountains, while moon light can be seen reflecting off of leaves on trees about 100 feet in front of the camera. 
The 50% Waxing Crescent moon is just beyond the upper left corner of the image.
f/5.6, ISO-400
Marion, NC from Bear Rocks on Brown Mountain!
Image 4024 is a two-minute time exposure looking southwest from Bear Rocks. 
The prominent single white light above a dark peak on the skyline left of center of the image is the flashing light on a communication tower atop Mount Ida on the south side of Marion, NC. 
The measured azimuth to this light is 220 degrees, which matches the line-of-sight plotted on the appropriate USGS topographic map. 
The brighter cluster of lights in the center of the image may be from the Wal-Mart/Lowes shopping center near the junction of US Highways 70 and 221, and NC Highway 226 on the northwest side of Marion.
f/5.6, ISO-400

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lights over Brown Mountain & Catawba Valley Light Pollution---June 26, 2013

Photography from Wiseman's View June 26, 2013

City lights of Lenoir east of Brown Mountain
55 minutes after sunset
Table Rock on the east rim of Linville Gorge can be seen on the right edge of the image
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS REBEL T3i DSLR camera w/ 18 mm lens,
f/4.5, 45 second exposure, ISO-400

 Light Pollution from Catawba Valley east of Table Rock
1 hour & 36 minutes after sunset
Collective Glow of City lights from Hickory & nearby towns reflecting off high thin clouds
Individual lights near Lenoir are visible over Brown Mountain on left side of image
Several short star trails are visible in the sky over Table Rock
Tripod-mounted Canon EOS REBEL T3i DSLR camera w/ 25 mm lens,
f/4.5, 122 second exposure, ISO-400

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Comparing Blue Ghost Fireflies with common yellow-blinking fireflies

This image shows a direct size comparison between adult male specimens of the smaller Blue Ghost Firefly (Phausis reticulata) and the larger more common yellow-blinking firefly (Photinus pyralis).  Both fireflies are lying on their backs, exposing their undersides.  Although not lighted in the image, the two bioluminescent tail segments on each specimen are obvious, with the pale bluish white color of the smaller Phausis reticulata and the pale yellowish color of the larger Photinus pyralis.  This image clearly shows that the BGF is less than half the size of the more common yellow-blinking firefly, while it's bioluminescent segments are only about 1/20th as large!  However, when seen in the total darkness of a moonless night deep in the forest, the continuous burn of the BGF can seem very bright and eerie indeed.

Photo by Ed Speer
Canon REBEL EOS DSLR T3i camera (f/2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO-800, 50 mm lens)
& AmScope binocular microscope SM-1T (7X magnification)
The smaller firefly (Phausis reticulata) has a broken antenna. 
The length measurements were taken from the far end of the antennas to the tail end of each firefly.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fireflies from Brue Ridge Parkway

Fireflies Monday, June 17, 2013 near mile 342.1 on Blue Ridge Parkway, McDowell Co, NC.

These 3 images show two types of fireflies at the same time.  The common yellow-blinking firefly Photinus pyralis, and the rare long-burning Blue Ghost Firefly (BGF), Phausis reticulata.  These time exposures show the greenish-yellow dashed flight paths of the common firefly and the long continuous greenish flight paths of the BGF.  Click on the individual photos to see larger images.  The common firefly (Photinus pyralis) began flying first as darkness fell, followed a few minutes later by Phausis reticulata.  The brighter light of the the common firefly greatly overshadowed the dim BGF for the first hour or so until the common firefly diseminated upward leaving the BGFs more readily visible near the ground. This population of BGFs is at 3,800' elevatin and is about 25 mi SE of Brown Mountain. 

Specifically it is situations where only 1 or 2 BGFs are present at any given time in a totally dark forest that could be mistaken for mysterious Brown Mountain Lights by an uninformed or unsuspecting individual.

These time exposure photos were taken with a tripod-mounted Canon EOS REBEL T3i DSLR camera with a 50 mm lens set near infinity focus, f/2.5 and ISO-6400