Tuesday, July 21, 2009

So I'm a Certified Nut... (Monday West Texas)

Today we drove out across Texas and we picked up a few geocaches along the way. We ran into some rain in Sonora, TX and then some spots hear and there every 70 miles or so. When we got to Alpine we got some glimpses of some beautiful rain bands and lighting. (I’ll try to post a picture if I can get this intermittent e-mail to work.) We left San Antonio around 11:30 am and got to Alpine around 6pm. We stopped for dinner at Fort Stockton. We basically unloaded the Honda Element and took a nap. Then around 9 pm we drove to McDonalds grabbed some dinner and headed to the Marfa Lights Viewing area. We had 2 pair of 10x50 Binoculars and viewed the lights with a back drop of the desert thunder storms that dotted the area. After viewing a while the clouds cleared and we could see the Milky Way and even m80 Naked eye. We counted about 5 satellites and talked with a family from Southern Alabama and another from the Clemourne, TX. They were a younger couple like us. Tommy was the mans name and I never got the name of his wife or mother-in-law.

Tommy drove back to Alpine and got his 8inch Schmit-Cass. Telescope and set it up at the viewing area. We pointed it at the lights. What we say was a small sun like ball of gas. Some moved around slowly. On time while at the eyepiece I saw was zip by really fast then come back in a very erratic behavior. They were Yellow/Orange in the center and had a red line along the outside like a ring. Many people that weren’t at the telescope thought they were just cars… but we could actually see cars in the telescope and they were noticeably cars! We could see the headlights and tail lights in the telescope. The “Lights” were much larger and a single ball like shape. One thing we all noticed was how gaseous they appeared in the telescope. There was a radio tower in the same general area and we looked at it in the telescope and it too appeared gaseous… wavy like. Almost like when you see heat waves on a hot road or roof of a car. To make sure it wasn’t the scope we looked at some stars and they appeared tack sharp.

I can clearly say that I’m convinced they are not… headlights (I saw head lights near them.. And it was distinct 2 lights illuminating the road and headlights following). The Marfa Lights were way different and moved in very strange ways and faded in and out in an unpredictable behavior. As I said before there was a thunderstorm near by and we saw flashes of lighting behind the balls of light, and It appeared that they were above the horizon. So what do I think they are…. Well I my guess is a natural phenomena like gas vents.. Swap gas or something similar. I doubt they are “Ghosts” or “Aliens”. So I guess if you don’t believe in what I have written then I mark me as certifiably insane, but I know what I saw… and it wasn’t headlights or airplanes, it was not man made.

We did get in some Astronomy. We looked at Jupiter, M80, and about two dozen other objects in the 8inch scope. Tommy was new to astronomy and not as good at star hopping so he let me take the wheel so to say and we star hopped across the sky while talking about our shared love of astronomy.

Tomorrow we are planning on taking the 16” out to the Marfa Observing site if the weather holds up. Also I want to take some long exposures with my DLSR and see what pattern if in the lights move in.