Active time for Brown Mountain Lights

A few miles east and north of Asheville there is a mystery, the kind of mystery that makes people take sides with science or God, with fairies or hallucinations.

The Brown Mountain Lights, of course. Seen them?

You go up on one of the popular viewing points with some friends, warm clothes and an open mind and wait. If you are lucky – and we were on Fri. Oct. 5th – you will start to see them as soon as the sun slips down past the Tennessee Mountains to the West.

It was not quite dark when we saw the first one, a red light down near the river, deep in the gorge, as the night went on it got brighter and dimmer and at one point changed to a bright white. Shortly after that, the show on the chimneys area started, some of which looked like this video, assembled from 11 30-second exposures with a 300mm lens. There has been no photoshop work on this, not even to correct the sky color or remove dust artifacts.

There are no roads up there, no houses. It is a wilderness area, so there could be backpackers, but being a backpacker myself, I can’t imagine carrying enough batteries to make lights this bright.

Brightness? Like stars. Like stadium lights.

Many people say they see them move. These time exposures seem to bear that out. The photos in the video were taken in the direction of the chimneys (map below). The lead photo was taken at the top of the Hawksbill.

The activity increase has led to a renewed interest and a symposium set for Saturday, Nov. 3 in Morganton, reports WBTV-3, Burke County Tourism officials and other media. Retired U.S. Forest Service Ranger C.W. Smith and noted North Carolina photographer Charles Braswell Jr. will present “Brown Mountain Lights: What Does Our Government Really Know?” (City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium, 1-4 p.m.)


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