University Research Council funded project report.

Our group includes trained scientists, astronomers and geologists. We also have outdoor recreation specialists and retired professionals of various disciplines. A professional photographer lends opinions. One of our scientists has a spouse who had a close-up encounter with a light.

We continue to make trips to the viewing sites but remain frustrated at not seeing the lights. Our general feeling is that the lights seen by most people most of the time are ordinary lights such as campfires, campers' flashlights, car head and tail lights, lights of planes taking off from the Morganton-Lenoir Airport. Other reliable observers who have claimed to see the unusal lights have reported seeing them only about one in twenty visits. Our lack of sightings supports this hit rate.

We are investigating various sources of lights, including doing flashlight tests observed from the observing sites, observing natural lights like Blue Ghost Fireflies and swamp methane flames.

One of our members is collecting video interviews with people who saw lights, some close up (tens of feet instead of thousands across the Gorge).

One of our current initatives is installing cameras to image the view from various locations. We have two camers that run on all non-rainy/snow nights, and we are planning the addition of more. Those images are combined into videos by an Appalachian State graduate student into a movie that is posted the next day on YouTube (see the home page for links).

We continue to approach the subject in a scientific manner, trying to get to the bottom of the perhaps few percent of sightings that are really unexplained.

The current theory for the lights that are not explained is that they may be ball lightning, a theory that we developed back in 2006. Ball lightning is not generally understood and efforts to recreate it in real scientific labs have been limited (that is, efforts to create it in free space like the BMLs, not in a bottle, which is easy to do).


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