For centuries, many have claimed to have seen the elusive Brown Mountain Lights — bright orbs said to unexpectedly materialize between dusk and dawn — that are believed to be ghostly spirits, extraterrestrials or just mysterious natural phenomenon.
Two prime public viewing spots attract the hopeful and skeptical. Fall is especially prime by day, with foliage at its peak in the Blue Ridge foothills in mid-October. And after dark, the season has often brought an uptick in reports of Brown Mountain Lights sightings.
There may be more folks looking for the apparitions this autumn now that Burke County Travel & Tourism has published a 22-page brochure, Brown Mountain Lights, Morganton, N.C.: A Viewing Guide. It capitalizes on what transpired in July: A long-skeptical astronomy professor captured what may be the first unimpeachable photos of the lights.
Yes, he now says, they do seem to exist.
But what are they?
“I don’t know,” says the professor.