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No. 51: May-Jun 1987

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Remarkable Photograph Of The Marfa Light

The century-old fame of the Marfa, Texas, nocturnal light was greatly enhanced some months ago, when it was written up in the Wall Street Journal, of all places! We now have at hand a time-exposure photograph showing the typical erratic motion and flickering nature of this "spook" light. The photo was taken by James Crocker in September 1986. The location was 10 miles deep in Mitchell Flats, southbound from Highway 90. A single-lens reflex camera mounted on a tripod was used. Exposure was less than 3 minutes, at f/1.8, 50 mm lens, EL 400 color film. Three additional observers were present.

It is interesting that the light's motion resembles that of some observations and photos of ball lightning. The lights in the upper right, just above the right loop of the Marfa light, are thought to be car lights on Route 67, about 10 miles distant. Unfortnately, the photo is too difficult to reproduce here. See our book: Science Frontiers: Some Anomalies and Curiosities of Nature for a good reproduction. Ordering information here.

Marfa Light, Texas Time-exposure photograph of the famed Marfa Light in Texas. See text for details (c) James Crocker.

From Science Frontiers #51, MAY-JUN 1987. 1987-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987