Society of Physics travels to Marfa Lights

The SHSU Society of Physics Students recently took a trip to find the source of the phenomenon know as the Marfa Lights.Rancher Robert Ellison first reported the lights in 1883. Over 75 different accounts have been reported and verified since then. The lights have been reported to move, pulse and swirl around in various positions. “We observed that they always moved in a horizontal pattern,” Derek Buster, team leader, said. “By the second night, we were pretty sure what was causing the phenomenon.””Our original hypothesis was much more complex than the actual cause; we thought it had something to do with atmospheric conditions like the Northern Lights,” said Buster. “(The lights were) a hoax.” Buster and his team analyzed the spectrum of lights using various colored filters and a high-powered telescope, concluding that the lights were exactly the same spectrum as light produced by halogen bulbs. Buster explained that the Marfa Lights were nothing more than headlights and that Marfa and the State of Texas had used the phenomenon to build a tourism base. However, many local experts disagree with the SPS’s conclusion, saying if they are headlights, what caused them in 1883?The trip was part of President James Gaertner’s university promotion program. The vice president of Student Services and other departments of the university sponsored the trip.The SPS also went to McDonald Observatory while in West Texas. For more information on the Marfa Lights, or for directions to see them yourself, visit the Web site at

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