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.
The bright planet Venus
Airplane leaving Statesville Municipal Airport and lights from a sports stadium?
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 a sports stadium?
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

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