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Proceedings Paper

An investigation into the Paulding Mystery Lights
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Paper Abstract

The Paulding Mystery Lights are a purportedly unexplained optical phenomenon, occurring nightly, deep in the woods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Michigan Tech Student Chapter of the SPIE initiated a project in 2008 to understand the cause of the Paulding Lights. Previous investigations by skeptics attributed the lights to headlights without explicitly identifying a source location. Our team applied a number of straightforward techniques to identify and then verify the source location of the Paulding Light. Beginning with observation through a telescope, the team moved to using tools such as detailed topographical maps and more common tools such as Google Street View to identify a candidate source location. The candidate source location was then validated by first recreating the light using a vehicle parked in that location. Additional verification was achieved by examining the correlation between the occurrence of the light and the passing of cars at the source location. A spectrometer was also used to compare the visible spectrum of the light to automotive headlamps. Our findings, presented here, indicate that the source of the Paulding light is automobile traffic on a stretch of road about 7 km from the viewing location.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 September 2011
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 8161, Atmospheric Optics IV: Turbulence and Propagation, 81610K (6 September 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.893692
Show Author Affiliations
Jeremy P. Bos, Michigan Technological Univ. (United States)
William Norkus, Michigan Technological Univ. (United States)
Michael Maurer, Michigan Technological Univ. (United States)
Douglas Sims, Michigan Technological Univ. (United States)
Christopher Middlebrook, Michigan Technological Univ. (United States)
Michael C. Roggeman, Michigan Technological Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8161:
Atmospheric Optics IV: Turbulence and Propagation
Alexander M. J. van Eijk; Stephen M. Hammel, Editor(s)

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