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over the Brown Mountain mass. About
9:30 the party made a circuit from
the summit to the hill above Parke
Cree, in the south-central part of
the mountain) returning to the summit
shortly before midnight. Had any
lights arisen over the mountain mass
some member of the party would prob-
ably have seen them) but none


The writer feels confident that the
lights he saw were actually a fair
average display of the so-called
Brown Mountain light. He not only has
Mr. Loven's word to sustain this con-
clusion, but he is certain that the
lights he saw agree closely in ap-
pearance and behavior with those
originally described in the Charlotte
Daily Observer and by Professor Perry.
The lights observed have nothing in
common with the Andes light or with
St. Elmo's fire. There is no geologic
basis for the idea that the lights
seen are natural wonders of any sort,
but there are certain interesting
surface features and atmospheric con-
ditions that are effective in pro-
ducing some of the appearances of the

By reference to the map it will be
noted that the Catawba Valley east of
Marion is a basinlike area--an area
nearly surrounded by mountains, of
which the Blue Ridge on the north,
with its fringe of southward-project-
ing spurs, is the highest and most
rugged part. After sunset cool air
begins to creep down the tributary
valleys into the basin, but the air
currents come from different sources
and are of different temperature and
density. The atmospheric conditions
in the basin are therefore very un-
stable, especially in the earlier
part of the evening, before any well-
defined circulatory system becomes
established. At any given place in
the basin the air varies in density

during the evening and hence in re-
fractiveness. The denser the air, the
more it refracts light or bends waves
of light emanating from any source.
The humidity of the air affects its
density and hence its refractive pow-
er. Mist, dust, and other fine parti-
cles tend to obscure and scatter the
light refracted and to impart to it
the reddish or yellowish tints so
frequently observed. Thus it is that
the light is most active in a clear-
ing spell after a rain, as noted by
many observers. When the mist is very
dense, the light is completely

Lights that arise from any source
in the basin are viewed at low angles.
Even those observed from altitudes of
3,500 or 4,000 feet, the heights of
the stations on Gingercake or on
Blowing Rock Mountain, had vertical
angles of less than 3°. Thus, the re-
fractive effect of the atmosphere
through which the light waves must
travel is at a maximum.

The effect of variations in the
density of the atmosphere between the
observer and the source of light is
at one time to increase and at another
time to diminish the intensity of the
light. This fact accounts for the
flares on lines 1 and 13. The diminu-
tion of a light after such a flare is
so marked that to the casual observer
or to one without a fieldglass the
light may seem to be completely ex-
tinguished. In the telescope, however,
it still appears in the same relative
position, though it is somewhat
fainter. Lights that are in view for
brief periods, such as the headlights
of automobiles or locomotives, which
show only when they are turned
toward the observer, produce similar
flares; but when they are turned in
other directions, they become extin-
guished so far as the observer at a
given station is concerned.

Probably few if any basins on the
Blue Ridge front are so favorably

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