Author: Shelby Tasker
|Weird Nature Phenomenon: Marfa’s Mystery Lights, Chinati Mountains, West Texas|
This paranormal phenomenon we call “Marfa Lights” has been reported as glowing orbs across the Mitchell Flat, an area near Marfa where they’ve mostly been observed. Many witnesses have said the lights are all different colors such as white, blue, green, yellow and red. They have been reported to be as big as a basketball, and come in unpredictable directions, and distances. They can appear at any point of time throughout the year, on any day of the week, and in any weather condition for seconds at a time, or even hours. These puzzling lights are shoulder height, float above ground, or high in the air. They can split into two, dart across the sky, or melt into just one light. They are usually reported ten to twenty times a year, and have yet to be seen during the day. In recent years the lights have become a tourist attraction. The Texas State Highway Department has constructed a viewing area a few miles away from Marfa for anyone to stop and enjoy the lights. The biggest mystery of all: we have no idea what causes the Marfa Lights.
There are thousands of explanations of the strangeness making the lights extremely controversial. Many researchers have tried coming up with a scientific reason for the lights, but have not had any luck. Therefore, many imaginers have come up with their own theory. Onlookers have described them as ghosts, and even UFOs. One explanation for these lights is the wandering ghosts from Spanish conquistadors who were looking for gold but were left behind, and will forever be around (Smith). Another theory is when World War I soldiers witnessed the lights; they feared the lights were an invasion (Smith). Pilots of the war looked for the source from the helicopters, but had no luck.
The most logical theory found was researched by the Society of Physics Students at the University of Texas at Dallas to determine an origin of the Marfa lights. They set up video cameras and traffic monitoring boxes for their experiment. The purpose was to find if there was a correlation between the numbers of lights being observed and the number of cars of the nearest highway (Stolyarrow). When the videos were played at real-time, all the lights seemed to jump, float, and change colors. However, when the videos were played at high speeds the lights moved from left to right along a path, just like cars would (Stolyarrow). The experimenters concluded all the suspicious lights observed by this group and anyone else could be identified as car headlights traveling on US 67 through Texas.
According to Julia Smith, publisher of the Texas State Historical Association, the first historical record of the lights was in 1883. Robert Ellison saw a flickering light while driving some cattle. When he told others what he saw, they often saw the lights also while driving their cattle through Marfa. When they went to investigate, they found no ashes or any other evidence from campfires (Smith). This theory makes it hard to believe the reasoning behind the lights are cars, because cars were not around that long ago.
Marfa Lights Up Close
Although some of the ideas seem very logical, others seem quite far-fetched. No matter what the idea is, there isn’t enough research to support any of the theories. In all, every theory proposed is simply a speculation at this point with none of them having any proven facts.
Darack, Ed. "Unlocking the atmospheric secrets of the Marfa mystery lights." Weatherwise. 61.3 (May-June 2008): p36. Academic OneFile. Article. 9 October 2013.
Hall, Michael. “The Truth is Out There.” Texas Monthly. June 2006. Web. 9 October 2013.
James, Peter. “Marfa Lights Up Close.” YouTube. Google. MP3 file. 18 February 2007. Web. 10 October 2013.
Lallanilla, Marc. “What are the Marfa Lights?” Livescience. Life’s Little Mysteries. 19 June 2013. Web. October 10, 2013.
Smith, Julia. “Marfa Lights.” Texas State Historical Association. n.d. Web. 13 October 2013.
Stolyarrow, Alexander. “An Experimental Analysis of the Marfa Lights.” University of Texas. 10 December 2005. Document. 10 October 2013.
“Weird Nature Phenomenon: Marfa’s Mystery Lights, Chinati Mountains, West Texas.” Photograph. Strange Sounds. 16 February 2013. Web. October 15, 2013.
Links for Further Research:
Marfa Lights Research. NightsOrbs. 2013. This website gives you a slide show of all the different images of the Marfa Lights.
The Marfa Lights. YouTube. Google 5 April 2011. Web. October 15, 2013. This video has interviews from the mayor of Marfa, Texas and other old-timers who have witnessed the lights first hand.
Hunting Marfa Lights. Amazon. n.d. Web. October 15, 2013. This website gives you a short summary of the book written by James Bunnel, “Hunting Marfa Lights,” and gives you the option to buy it.