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Marfa Lights...

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Marfa Lights...
« on: February 13, 2007, 03:25:24 PM »

Check out the webpage for pics..

The Marfa Lights and Me
It was a clear night in Marfa, Texas in 1978. It had been a long, though fairly enjoyable, ride from Houston to this point. Ending my day, approximately five hundred miles away from home, I cratered in a motel. The next day was brisk and of course much drier than the humid conditions that were always experienced in Houston. I decided that when night fell, I would go where the Marfa Mystery Lights were so often spotted and wait for them to show up. I remember the nice lady at the motel telling me that they aren't always there. So, I sat by this dark, desert road, until sunup, waiting for the mystery lights to appear. Well, they sure were a mystery to me, ‘cause I never saw ‘em. Not only that, it was cold out there. I sat on my bike, shivering for a good 5 or 6 hours and saw nothing, not even a firefly. Mystery lights my butt! Marfa, you let me down! Back to the motel and try to figure out my next move. Yeah, sleep.

The Marfa Lights and Others
But, according to others, these lights are real. Oh, they're mysteries alright in that they can't be explained away as can some mysteries. These lights have been reported since 1883, when cowboys began to see them. I checked and there appears to be no record of a saloon or liquor store having been in the vicinity back then. Of course, there's probably some peyote growing around there somewhere.

They're commonly referred to as the Marfa lights, named after the little ranching town located on a Chihuahua Desert plateau. Now this is the place where the old movie, "Giant" was filmed. That movie starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. I wonder if they ever saw the lights? If they did, they never told me about it!

According to witnesses (ahem) each light seems to have a mind of its own. Some travel parallel to the ground, while others shoot straight upward. Those that are vertically challenged (short) are often brighter than the longer ones. It chops, slices and dices.

Everyone asks the same tired old questions of all these mysteries. "Where do they come from?" My answer is usually, how much have you had to drink today? "No, the headlight of a 1973 Buick Riviera is not a Marfa light, so get off the ground and don‘t forget your whiskey bottle."

Photo of Marfa Lights.
Strictly Scientific View
The Marfa lights range in diameter from one foot to ten feet. They are spherical and reddish-orange in color. Their size and speed may vary. A light seems to have the ability to change speeds and intensity. Numerous photographs and videos have been made of them. All in all, the ghost lights are considered harmless. There is even one story of a man, lost in a blizzard, who was provided warmth and guided home by the lights! There are verifiable accounts of persons being chased by the lights!

Scientist have dragged every contraption known to man out to the desert to try to prove or disprove something about the Marfa Lights. To date, nothing scientific has been proven. These things have been chased by an airplane, in automobiles and they, in turn have chased humans.

Some people believe the lights are, in some way, reflections from high powered lights used by some of the ranchers in the area. Of course, they can't explain how they're being reflected. Some believe they are automobile headlights being reflected. Once again, how are they being reflected? Besides, these lights have been reported since long before electricity was available.

The State of Texas has provided a Marfa Lights viewing area on Highway 90. From here a person is to look toward Chinati Peak, using a distant tower light (a red one) as a marker and any light that appears to the right of the red light is a Marfa Light!

NOTE: The next time I go to Marfa, I'm gonna visit Chinati Peak with about 4 flashlights and a case of batteries! There will be Marfa lights that night!

Putting all humor aside, I'm glad the Marfa Lights are still mystifying people. Even though I've never seen them, I fully believe the people who have told me about them. I also believe that man may gain a bit of intellect by learning the cause(s) of them, but he loses another bit of his own faith and imagination by doing so.

NOTE: For use of their photo, I owe a debt of gratitude to the nice folks at . For more information on the Marfa Lights, visit them.


Offline Daryl

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Marfa Lights...
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2007, 08:18:16 PM »
My first sighting of the Marfa Lights:

Several years back (long before the viewing area was built), I stopped along the highway around 2am to try and view the lights.  I stood there for about 30 minutes and was about to give up when I saw a large, multi-colored, wavering light about 100 yards off the highway.  This was much more than I had expected.  After watching for 2-3 minutes, I worked up the nerve to walk toward it.  The night was nearly pitch black, but I dared not use a flashlight for fear of “scaring” away the mystery light.  Slowly, I shuffled toward the light and did my best to avoid prickly plants and rattlers.

When I was about 50 feet away, I started hearing noises.  Well, this was unexpected.  I’d heard of the lights, but never any sound effects.  I froze to try and listen and watch.  Slowly, the light started to come into focus and the sounds became clear.  My pulse raced as the mystery began to resolve itself.  A seemingly disembodied voice mumbled drunkenly, “Sssh, d’you hear that?  O sh**, there’s something out there.”  The silhouette of a motorcycle was now visible in the “mystery” glow and it was finally apparent that the light was the beam of a flashlight shining from the inside of a multicolored doom tent.

In a heartbeat, I went from amazed and bewildered to barely controlled panic.  I could hardly call out and announce myself.  How would I explain why I was sneaking up on their tent?  I couldn’t run (I could barely see).  I couldn’t even back away slowly.  They were now listening intently.  All I could do was wait them out.  I quietly crouched down and waited for things (including my heart rate) to settle down.  About five minutes later, they turned off the light and went back to sleep (or whatever drunken bikers do in tents at 2am).  I waited another few minutes and slowly made my way back to the highway and my truck.

Their light came back on when I started my engine.  I quickly floored it and got the he** out of there.  I’ve seen the “actual” Marfa lights a couple of times since then.  However, I’ll always wonder it they are caused by a bunch of drunken bikers.
Don't worry about getting lost.  You're biodegradable


Offline astrofizz

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mirages on the Marfa plateau
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2007, 08:21:03 AM »
The mid-elevation grassland of the Marfa plateua is a ready-made laboratory for seeing and studying a variety of mirage phenomena.
The Pinto Canyon road (FM 2810) goes south from Marfa to the "River Road", reaching FM 170 at Ruidosa after approx 55 miles. It's great quiet country and the southern end of the road meanders thru Pinto Canyon itself, and thru the Chinati Mountains. The road goes to dirt about 32 miles south of Marfa, just before it drops into the canyon. The road can be rough in the canyon, especially after strong storms. It's a fun area to visit & explore (though stay along the road since off-road is private, and be prepared, since this is remote country). The first 20 miles is the best mid-elevation grassland, and an outstanding place to watch for mirages, especially just after dawn on still, cold winter mornings.
I have seen the "Fata Morgana", for example, on three occasions on this road on cold winter mornings near sunrise (I've also seen the Fata Morgana once on the road from Ft Davis to Marfa, Rt 17). This is an astonishing mirage phenomena that draws natural features into vertical streaks, as though they were somehow being stretched in a vertical direction.  It's also sometimes called (tongue-twister ahead!) the "hafgerdingar effect".
On one occasion along Pinto Canyon Road, about 5 miles south of Marfa, I saw a group of cattle through a pool of air of this type, Thus, in addition to the landscape looking odd, the cows appeared to be similarly deformed, i.e., stretched vertically. Wild. If I moved, driving down the road a bit, my perspective wrt the (large) pool of air that was creating the mirage changed, so the mirage moved, reflecting my motion along the road.
The Fata Morgana is caused by particularly strong "temperature inversions", a well-known but moderately rare phenomena where the air temperature actually rises with height above the ground (rather than cooling, the more normal condition).  The fact that I saw these mirages during winter was notable: the cold ground was a key ingredient. Fata Morgana is Italian for Morgan the Fairy, the name that was given centuries ago to complicated mirages seen over the Mediterranean.
If these sort of natural (and eminently explainable, though sometimes complex) natural phenomena interest you, I recommend 3 books:
"The Nature of Light and Color in the Open Air"
by M. Minnaert, Dover 1954
The classic, still available in an inexpensive Dover reprint.
"Color and Light in Nature"
David K. Lynch and William Livingston
Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition, 2001
large format paperback
Gorgeous photos, great text
Decent (but not terribly dramatic) photo of Fata Morgana over the Sonoran Desert, p 61
"Rainbows, Halos, and Glories"
Robert Greenler
first published Cambridge University Press, 1980
available in paperback
Decent photo of Fata Morgana over ice, p 167.
The Marfa Lights ain't the only show in town. :-)  



Offline Casa Grande

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Marfa Lights...
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2007, 09:26:59 AM »
we mustn't forget the "glenn spring" lights..i've seen them on several occasions...i saw them from Fresno also


Offline BenHogan77

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Re: Marfa Lights...
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2012, 10:27:41 AM »
Seen them both times we've gone out there.  Guess I'm lucky.
The time has come.


Offline fartymarty

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Re: Marfa Lights...
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2012, 04:26:50 PM »
I've been there several times and all I've ever seen are the cars and trucks on distant Hwy. 67 coming up from Presidio way.
Watched several people point at that same traffic and claim they can see the Marfa Mystery Lights. I said nothing. It's a great
place to stop, relax and start to digest a great meal from the Riata in Alpine, watch the twilight end, feel the warm night air on your face.
Bring a folding chair, binoculars, and a warm or cool beverage depending on the weather. Watch people see stuff.  :willynilly:
Fort Worth



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