Monday, September 8, 2014

Staged Light Test Aug 13-14, 2014 Pinchin Trail BML Cam2

Staged Light Test Aug 13-14, 2014  Pinchin Trail  BML Cam2

Three Brown Mountain Light Research Team members hiked down the Pinchin Trail on the west side of Linville Gorge before dark on the evening of August 13/14, 2014 and conducted staged light tests on the hike back up the trail to the car after dark.  The hikers were Dr. Cato Holler, Jr., Chris Holler, and myself.  Hiker lights included 520- and 320-lumen handheld spotlights and headlamps up to 78 lumen.

These staged tests establishes the easy visibility of the type of handheld lights commonly carried by back country hikers and also establishes exactly where that trail is located in the camera's field of view.  The tests confirm our earlier suspicions of similar lights seen on previous dates when unknown hikers and campers were on the trail.  A forest fire in 2006 destroyed most of the vegetation along the trail, allowing for nearly-continuous open views, especially on the middle portions of the very steep trail.  During the hike, I recorded the times of our arrival and departure at specific landmarks along the trail---these matched perfectly with lights recorded by the video on BML Cam2. The full video can be seen at:  see video time (0:35-1:00) for our hiker lights and (1:20-1:27) for our headlights on Dogback Mtn.

Our BML Cam2 is located at a house south of the southern end of Linville Gorge. It is operated by Dr. Dan Caton, Lee Hawkins, and Annette Farah of the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State Univ., Boone, NC. The camera is located 4.5 miles south of the Pinchin Trail and has been running intermittently since October 2013.

Hiker lights pointed directly toward the camera
Hiker light atop prominent rock tower (nicknamed Sourwood Stack) along the trail
Otter Browning's bright campfire seen in the Feb 01-02, 2014 video was located just up the trail from this point.
After the hike, we drove Old NC Hwy 105 (Kistler Memorial Hwy) to the summit of Dogback Mtn.
Our vehicle's headlights and 2 handheld spotlights are pointed southward toward the camera. 
Headlights of vehicles on this gravel raod are often visible at this open viewspot.

Once again, staged light tests like this strongly suggests that differentiating between distant nocturnal manmade lights and non-manmade lights is extremely difficult if not actually impossible for uninformed observers relying only on visual clues.

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