Monday, November 17, 2014

BML Cam1 Jonas Ridge Camera for August 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.

To date, numerous lights have been recorded by Cam1, including: town/city/rural lights in the valleys beyond Brown Mountain, fireworks, 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 stars, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, the moon, lightning and fireflies. Disappointingly, Cam1 has yet to record any support for mysterious or unknown lights in the Brown Mountain area.

BML Cam1 recorded 256 hours of nocturnal observation time on 30 nights during August 2014, resulting in 30,738 individual 30-second time-exposure images. This brings the totals over the past 19 months since start up in Feb 2013 to 2,776 hours of nocturnal observation time on 320 different nights resulting in 294,762 individual time-exposure images.

No abnormal, unusual or unexpected nocturnal lights were positively identified by BML Cam1 during August 2014.  While observation during much of the month was hampered by stormy weather (clouds, rain & fog), a staged light test by myself on August 20th was instrumental in proving once again that normal back-country user lights are readily visible at Bear Rocks on the summit of Brown Mountain (6.7 miles east of the camera) and on FS Road 4099 (5.6 miles distant from the camera).   Non-staged ATV headlights were visible on the nights of Aug 16th (southbound on Trail #2) and Aug 23rd (northbound on trails along the ridgeline of Brown Mountain).  Other than the lights mentioned above, the usual distant manmade lights (urban/rural, airplanes, etc) were visible most nights above Brown Mountain throughout the month.