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/smear image effects of some bright city lights
Note band of lights across bottom of image that mirrors the bright city lights above.
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.  This lower band of lights is due to image transition errors internal to the camera.
Ascending airplane takes off from Statesville Municipal Airport
Smoke stack emmissions on the south side of 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

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