Saturday, August 16, 2014

BML Cam2 Staged Light Tests July 14-15 & Aug 13-14, 2014

The Brown Mountain Lights Research Team's BML Cam2 sits in the yard of a house beside Old NC Hwy 105 (Kistler Memorial Highway) and looks up Linville Gorge. It has been running intermittently since October 2013.  As of March 31, 2014, Cam2 has recored 511 hours of nocturnal observation time on 105 different nights resulting in 30,000 individual time-exposure images.  Videos of the individual nigthly time-lapse images are posted on YouTube---just search "Brown Mountain Lights Camera 2"
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 Cam1) located on Jonas Ridge and overlooking Brown Mountain---just search "Brown Mountain Lights Camera 1" on YouTube.  Both cameras are modified highly light-sensitive comet-hunting cameras.

To date, numerous lights have been recorded by Cam2, including: airplanes, backcountry vehicle lights, and back-country hiker/camper lights. Natural lights captured by the camera include bright stars, meteors and lightning. Disappointingly, Cam2 has yet to record any support for mysterious or unknown lights in the lower Linville Gorge area.
Suspected hiker/camper lights in several different areas have occassinally been captured by Cam2.  To verify these suspicions, staged light tests were conducted by team members night hiking on the Wolf Pit Trail on July 14-15, 2014; and again, on the Pinch-In Trail on August 13-14, 2014.  Cam2 captured the handheld hiker lights both nights, verifying the earlier suspicions.
More details about these staged light tests are forthcoming, in the mean time however, the respective YouTube videos are highly informative---now we know exactly where these trails are in the camera's view and we know that hiker lights are highly visible from portions of each trail.
July 14-15, 2014  Ed Speer roundtrip on Wolf Pit Trail to summit of Shortoff Mtn (east rim of Linville Gorge)
Lightning at begining of video, hiker lights (0:31-1:15), scattered moonlight, camera lens halo.
August 13-14, 2014  Ed Speer, Cato Holler, Chris Holler roundtrip on Pinch-In Trail (west rim of Linville Gorge)
Airplanes, camera lens halo, vehicles on Old Hwy 105 on Dogback Mtn, hiker lights (0:35-1:00).
Vehicle lights on Dogback Mtn soon after the hiker lights were ours too!!
As with all of our other staged light tests, these two light tests also strongly suggest that differentiating between distant nocturnal manmade lights and non-manmade lights is extremely difficult if not actually impossible for uninformed observers.

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