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No. 60: Nov-Dec 1988

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Airborne Observations Of The Marfa Lights

The Marfa lights are elusive, and most people lucky enough to see them observe them from the ground. Neverthe-less, a few pilots and aircraft passengers have encountered them. In February 1988, R. Weidig was flying at about 8000 feet, some 20 miles from Alpine, Texas, when he noticed white lights in motion around the Alamito Tower's red beacon light.

"We noticed white lights coming up... I don't know how high, but it seemed like several hundred feet. Then the lights would just dissipate ... They moved around that tower for some reason. They'd get on the right hand side of it, the left hand side of it, and go just straight up."

In June 1988, a stranger case was reported by E. Halsell, who was a passenger on a plane flying toward the Chianti Mountains.

"'Suddenly a bright light came toward them rapidly, seemingly from a great distance. "It came straight at us til it got to the hood of the plane....It was engulfing us, larger than the plane.' It seemed as though they were inside the light. 'We couldn't see to fly. It scared us.' According to Halsell, as they tried to turn away from it, it moved in front of them. 'Always it moved around us, like it was observing us....We made right turns and left turns and it stayed right with us, like it was playing a game.' The light was very bright, but 'It was kind of fuzzy, like a halo or aura, a ball of light without an obvious center.' The light was white in color, was constant rather than pulsating or flickering. There was no unusual sound."

(Brueske, Judith; "Encountering 'The Lights,'" The Desert Candle, 2:1, July/August 1988.)

Reference. The Marfa lights are classified as "nocturnal lights" at GLN1 in the catalog volume: Lightning, Auroras Ordering details here.

From Science Frontiers #60, NOV-DEC 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "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