Lights, Camera.

Light, in a variety of strange and mysterious permutations, has been a consistent theme over the past few days. It started in Marfa with the interpetative effect that shadows cast in the Donald Judd outdoor art installations, and the textured sheen created by his indoor minimalist work.

They’re real! Actual ghost lights, captured after dusk along U.S. Route 67, east of Marfa

More intriguing still were the so-call Marfa Ghost Lights we experienced east of town – a legitimate and unexplained phenomenon that occurs after dusk, when UFO-like orbs of light appear on the horizon, dancing around, merging and dividing… then disappearing, only to reappear elswehere on the horizon. When we arrived for the viewing the most spectacular light in the sky was the full moon rising: a massive orange celestial body that stole the show until the lights took center stage.

We then migrated to the McDonald Observatory, where we toured some of the world’s largest telescopes and peered at the amazing technology required to view the mystery of our universe. The observatory is now embarking on a project to identify the essence of dark energy, and has shot a beam of light at the moon to calculate its exact distance from earth (it’s drifting further out into space by an inch a year), among a number of other astronomical revelations.

And speaking of spacey, no trip to this part of the world is complete without a visit to Roswell, New Mexico, home of the International UFO Museum and Research Center. The facility, and all its surrounding quirky Roswellian culture, spawned from the legendary Roswell Incident – when allegedly a couple of UFOs crash-landed on the ranch of William Brazel in 1947. Evidence was gathered and the news quickly spread worldwide, spurring debate and fueling interest in, as well as conspiracy theories about, the subject of UFOs and the role of our government in their cover-up. If nothing else, we had a lot more light shed on the subject of extraterrestrials.

Naturally occurring (or at least explainable) phenomena have also included the strike of lightning I was able to capture from the veranda of our hotel in Fort Davis, Texas, and amazing clouds, painted in pastel by the setting sun or suspended over the earth like alien invaders. We’re off now to explore the ethereal light of Santa Fe on the backroads of New Mexico, known as the Turquoise Trail. We expect more enlightening moments ahead.

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