Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 88

A recommended viewing spot is the Brown
Mountain Overlook, on N.C. Highway 181
between mile markers 20 and 21, about 12
miles north of Morganton.
COURTESY OF BURKE COUNTY TOURISM

Whatever happened between those trees?
Nobody seems to know.

A flickering fire, a flame in the breeze,
Leaves fall and rises a glow.

- FROM "GHOST LIGHTS" BY JIMMY ATKINS

physics and astronomy, and director
of observatories, at Appalachian State
University. As a scientist, he's a skeptic by training, and remains focused
on inquiry and evidence. He and fellow scientists and students formed
a Brown Mountain Lights research
group in 2012 following Ed Phillips'
symposium at the Morganton City
Hall, to investigate the physics of the
lights. (Read more on his site: dancaton.
physics.appstate.edu/BML/index.htm)
The group-called WCLEAR,
short for Western-Carolina Lights
Experimental Advanced Researchers- uses stationary cameras in two
locations. One overlooks Highway
181 onto Brown Mountain from the
Jonas Ridge area. The other is south

88

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

of the valley, facing north up the
Linville Gorge. Both are located at
private residences that have provided permission to install the cameras
and use the owners' broadband to
collect data.
These are infrared-sensitive night,
low-light-level cameras that take sequences of images all night, from
dusk to dawn. The next morning,
Caton downloads the footage, builds
them into videos and posts them on
YouTube.
While Caton and his team have
ruled out many causes, ball lighting-an unexplained atmospheric
electrical phenomenon-remains a
possibility, a wild card. "
It's not well understood," Caton

says. "Suppose nature has a way of
making ball lightning preferentially
in the gorge? Great, we've got a natural lab that knows how to make it, but
it's difficult to capture it. It would be
much easier to study the lights if we
could predict them.
"The bottom line is that most
people are completely unfamiliar
with the night scape. They're indoors
watching TV or working on their
computers, and they're probably living in a light-polluted environment.
So when they get outdoors in a dark
location, they are clueless about natural and manmade lights. I estimate
that 95 percent or more of the sightings are people who seek the lights,
see some kind of light and leave
thinking they've seen the Brown
Mountain Lights."
He cites a few examples: "I've seen
people get excited by a flashing cellphone tower light or the lights of
Lenoir, a city in Caldwell County. Really, we've had airplanes and flashing
tower lights for a century. CSX trains
travel regularly through the gorge and
there are 27 miles of ATV trails."
The lights have been the focus of
numerous books. Author Ed Speer,


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018

Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 9
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 18
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 21
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 23
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 31
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 34
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 37
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 66
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 67
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 68
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 71
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 73
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 76
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 78
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 79
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 81
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 88
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 89
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 90
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 91
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 93
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 94
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 95
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 96
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 97
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 98
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 99
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 100
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 101
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 111
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 112
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 118
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 119
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 120
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 121
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 129
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 130
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover4
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