The Hunt For The Marfa Lights

The History, The Plan, Equipment, The Map, Links

Well folks, this year's attempt was a bit of a bust. I did not have the time to get the word out to enough people before the star party started to get things organized. Next year I would like to try again. Toward that end, if you think you will attend the 2005 Texas Star Party and are interested in participating in the expedition E-mail me so I can put together an address book file of those interested. Then, as the time nears, I will contact you with updates.

When I got back from last year's star party I received some information from a company that does Hyperspectral Analysis about their efforts in the area. Their data is the first science minded I have been able to find. Check the links below for their story and a couple of other new links.

At next year's Texas Star Party I would like to try again to organize a hunt for the Marfa Lights. I will need help from anyone that has a 2 Meter Ham radio, GPS locator, high end video or film equipment, compass or transport vehicle. If you have any of the above or anything else you feel would be useful E-mail Fred.

What I have in mind is to set up at several locations and plot their positions and take images that will be suitable for spectroscopic analysis as well as pretty pictures for those back home. Also to eliminate car lights as the source of any given event, all in real time. If we succeed with producing any useful data or pictures I will post them on this web site for all to see.

In the past several groups, from several countries, have gone into the area to solve the mystery of the Marfa Lights with all kinds of equipment and good intentions. Results from these endeavors are nowhere to be found even in today's Internet age. I have searched the web on several occasions and found only anecdotal information just like the library in Marfa shows to the tourists. I even went to Sol Ross University in Alpine to see what was in their library, the same stuff that was in the Marfa library!

The History

The Marfa Lights have been reported in the area since before the white man came. The native Indians believed that they were spirits of the lost or departed. While the airbase east of Marfa was active, several pilots reported seeing them and some were even chased by the lights.

One of the librarians in Marfa, that I talked to several years ago, reluctantly related her encounter with the lights on the road one evening as she was going home. She said the lights chased her for a time and scared the wits out of her, I believe sincerely, from the expression on her face she was afraid, very afraid of them.

My own experience has not been that close or personal, I have seen them from several locations around the area. The most intense displays seem to when the atmosphere is charged with storms nearby. The most common display is one or more lights dancing a little above apparent ground level (the slope is down hill as you look southwest at the lights) moving generally toward the north. On occasion I have seen them bob up and down and sometimes one will split into two or more of different colors. The most common color is red, but I have seen them vary from yellow through orange and occasionally with a blue or green tinge to them.


The Plan

I have scouted several locations to spot people along Hiway 67 and 169 as well as the ranch road near the official public observing site at Nopal Siding. The idea being to triangulate the position of the lights on three axis and eliminate those that might be caused by car lights coming or going from Presidio or on the other roads. We will need volunteers to man the stations with radios at each sight and at the sights where the lights can be seen to also have a compass/altitude device ( I have made three of these devices ) and imaging equipment.

Before we all go out, I would like to mark the sights and get GPS readings and assess probable view and dangers such as critter holes and the types of critters around. Then, on the night or nights we decide to go for it, set up HQ at Nopal Siding and coordinate from there the comings and goings of the lights and car traffic.

On the map ( close the window to return ) the Nopal Siding is in the upper right corner almost to the orange spot by the right edge, Marfa is the larger orange spot to the left a little where the roads intersect. The diagonal line going from Nopal Siding toward the Chinati Mountains in the lower left is about the line of sight for the Lights


The Equipment

Item Purpose Locations
2 Meter Ham Radios For communications All locations
GPS locators* Establish positions on map** All locations
Compass Device Triangulating location of lights Viewing locations
Topo maps*** Plotting triangulation results HQ
Imaging Analysis and fun Viewing locations
Snacks and drinks Bring your own All locations
Critter defense**** Self preservation All locations
Event Log Sheets*** Logging events time, direction etc. Viewing locations

Some spotter locations will not be able to see the lights, they will be for telling us about cars on the roads.

* Would like to have at least one that can give very accurate info including altitude.

** Can be done before hand.

*** I have these.

**** Sticks, Mace, Pepper spray etc., snakes may be about in the evening and various livestock in the remote locations. Please do not hurt them if you do not have to.



These links should come up in a new browser window to return here just close the new window.

E-mail Fred Send me your comments, suggestions, equipment or car you have available.

Texas Star Party Home Page

Event Log Sample of the log.

Gazer Aids Home Page Stock up before or at the Texas Star Party.


Web Sites about the Marfa Lights:

These are the only ones that still worked during recent site overhaul.

A Goole Search turned up 17,000 results, so info about the Marfa Lights is not lacking.

James Bunnell's web site with pictures and his books about his research into the Marfa Lights.

A couple of accounts by Sharon Eby-Martin, First Paper, Second Paper