Aug 09, 2016 I Micah Hanks

Video Captures Rare, Unexplained Natural Phenomenon on Film

A new video appearing online may have captured an elusive phenomenon, providing the first footage in years of what are believed to be unexplained "ghost lights" in the American Southeast.

A few weeks ago, the Charlotte Observer featured an article by writer Mark Washburn, discussing an old, but familiar tale: the ongoing appearances of what are called the Brown Mountain Lights, a recurring "ghost light" seen near the Linville Gorge Wilderness. More specifically, Washburn's article had addressed the apparent lack of appearances of the lights in recent months, citing the research of Appalachian State University professor Daniel Caton, who had expressed some dissatisfaction that despite the popular legend, little seems to have emerged in the way of evidence caught on camera.

That isn't to say that there has never been anything in the way of photographic evidence, however, as I blogged about here recently as well. Only that, in recent years, there appears to have been an underwhelming case supporting the existence of the lights, at least as far as video evidence goes.


That's not for a lack of trying though. Caton and his team have operated a number of webcams in the region for years now, trained on spots near Brown Mountain and the surrounding Linville Gorge Wilderness, with hopes of capturing any unusual lights on film. In January of last year, I attended and spoke briefly at a meeting of scientists and other interested parties that included Caton, where we reviewed a few samples of the footage he had obtained at that time. However, nothing suggestive of anything conclusive, at least so far as the famous "Brown Mountain Lights" go, seemed to have been captured.

Fast forward to July 17, 2016, less than a month after the Charlotte Observer reported on the mysterious "disappearance" of the odd earth lights at Brown Mountain. Had the wellspring for this oddity simply dried up, or had the supposed "phenomenon" really never existed at all? Many were beginning to wonder... and then, something did happen to appear on film, registered by not one, but two of Dr. Caton's array of cameras. The object, though somewhat indistinct, nonetheless appears to show an orb of light over the mountain, which blanks out, then reappears again. With the multi-camera array, the illumination's position seems absolute, and suggests a legitimate object in space, rather than merely a reflection or some other artifact (the video in question can be seen here).


Caton describes that the object "seemed to be fixed high over the ridge,” noting that the object in the footage qualifies as the first apparent anomaly that he's witnessed. "I’m sort of back in the game," he says.

As I've noted in several previous posts here at Mysterious Universe, the lights at Brown Mountain have a long and interesting history. Official reports only date back to the early part of the last century, although it is often cited that there are Native American legends from much earlier. However, no evidence exists which supports this claim, and equally perplexing is the absence of any mention of the lights in travel logs and other written documents about the early region spanning the last few centuries.

The earliest reports from the region are based on accounts shared with USGS scientist George Mansfield, who came to the area and studied the lights in 1922, some in the region claimed to have seen the lights as early as the 1860s (Mansfield's report can be read here). Based on this, it had begun to seem to many researchers that the mysterious lights were a mystery of the modern variety, much as Mansfield suggested: it was his belief, based on scientific research he conducted, that the illuminations were merely the approaching headlights of locomotives far off in the distance.

However, the problem with this explanation is that it doesn't seem to account for the descriptions given by observers who have purportedly watched the lights become airborne, and drifting above the mountain; a phenomenon depicted in at least a few photos to have emerged of the lights from over the years.

Now, with the addition of Professor Caton's video, there may finally be video footage showing one of these unexplained aerial illuminations.

With time, perhaps such evidence will help scientists like Caton come to a better understanding of what, precisely, causes the Brown Mountain Lights. If they are indeed something akin to ball lightning, as Caton and others have long speculated, solving the mystery of the lights may also lend clues to understanding similar natural phenomena that occurs elsewhere around the world.
Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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