James Bunnell. Hunting Marfa Lights. Lacey Publishing Company, 2009
Marfa is a small community in the west of Texas noted for the appearance of strange lights. For some these lights are a paranormal visitation, for others merely the misperception of the lights of distant vehicles. Retired NASA engineer James Bunnell has spent 8 years studying these lights, and concludes that while many can be explained in terms of well understood causes, others are much more puzzling. He has managed to obtain films and/or spectrographical analysis of some of these lights, which seem to rule out some of the more obvious explanations.
What makes this study interesting is that Bunnell has eschewed interpretations in terms of UFOs, paranormal phenomena or even speculative natural phenomena such as earthlights. Instead he has taken the scientific line of trying to discover exactly what the lights are. There are no grand conclusions, some of the spectrographic analysis points to plasma phenomena, others to forms of chemical combustion. Whether these are two aspects of the same phenomenon, or two separate phenomena remains to be determined. Another group of lights seem to be produced by nocturnal mirages.
By establishing remote monitoring stations in various locales in the general area, well removed from much light pollution he has been able to observe and photograph a wide range of rare atmospheric phenomena, including a very rare photograph of a blue jet lightning event, as well as several examples of 'sprites', meteorites and some other events which seem to relate to uncatalogued phenomena including a couple of more classically ufological nocturnal lights (again Bunnell does not claim these represent alien spaceships) as well as observations on the local nocturnal wildlife.
This study perhaps gives us an idea of what a scientific ufology might actually look like. It would be great to see this expanded on a proper professional basis, "the atmospheric rare events survey" or some such, with large numbers of sophisticated web cams in remote places away from light pollution, and to document these before light pollution becomes universal.