Yesterday evening, a group of about 20 of us from the rally drove the 20 or so miles to the Marfa lights viewing area. We had driven past it a couple of days ago when we went to Terlingua, and thought it was a roadside rest area.
I did get a good photo of a beautiful sunet!
There were quite a few folks already there but there is plenty of parking space and we were soon set up with our lawn chairs on the elevated viewing area, waiting on the big show. We waited and waited, but the only thing we saw was some house lights and some sort of emergency vehicle flashing red lights that were way off in the distance. Bummer...
I hope to have some time to come back to check the lights again before we leave. I did some Wikipedia research and learned that the lights have been reported as ghost or mystery lights from an unknown source. Some scientific research decided that the lights were merely reflections of vehicle lights from nearby highway 67 between Presidio and Marfa.
The first published account of the lights appeared in the July 1957 issue of Coronet magazine. In 1976, Elton Miles' Tales of the Big Bend included stories dating to the 19th century, and a photograph of the Marfa lights taken by a local rancher.
The earliest anecdote commonly cited for the observation of the Marfa Lights is that of the cowboy Robert Reed Ellison in March 1883. This was while he was herding cattle through the Paisano Pass southwest across the Marfa plain. The lights were next reported in 1885 by Joe and Anne Humphreys. Both stories appear in Cecilia Thompson's book History of Marfa and Presidio County, Texas 1535-1946.
Referring to the Marfa Lights View Park east of Marfa, James Bunnell states, "you might just see mysterious orbs of light suddenly appear above desert foliage. These balls of light may remain stationary as they pulse on and off with intensity varying from dim to almost blinding brilliance. Then again, these ghostly lights may dart across the desert...or perform splits and mergers. Light colors are usually yellow-orange but other hues, including green, blue and red are also seen. Marfa Mystery Lights (MLs) usually fly above desert vegetation but below background mesas.
Bunnell lists 34 Marfa lights sightings from 1945 through 2008. Monitoring stations were put in place starting in 2003. He has identified "an average of 9.5 MLs on 5.25 nights per year", but thinks the monitoring stations may only be finding half of the MLs in Mitchell Flat.
I suppose that since there have only been 34 sightings, we shouldn't feel too bad. Maybe next time.