Spooklights Documented Nationwide

Forget about spooky ghosts when you celebrate Halloween tonight. So fickle, unreliable and, well, unreal, how about spooklights, instead?

Spooklight sighters have documented the floating lightballs for decades throughout the United States, including near Cloverdale and Lexington in Lauderdale County.

"Half the time, you're looking at the sky, see nothing and you turn around and there it is," said Wyatt Cox, spooklight aficionado who documented more than 180 sightings in his 2007 book Spooklights, "The Amazing Cloverdale, Alabama Spooklight Mystery" (Ghost Research Society Press).

Cox said the best place to see spooklights in the Shoals is at the intersection of Cloverdale Road and Lauderdale 272, just south of Cloverdale. The best time, he said, is between 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

"It may not be every night, but it probably will be," Cox said.

Cloverdale spooklights typically are 8-foot-wide balls of yellowish-orange light, that silently pulsate and travel about 20 to 30 mph. Their longevity and altitude are unpredictable, according to Cox.

He said that unlike ghosts, some observers explain spooklights with science as "a natural phenomenon produced by electrical currents in most fault lines."

Andy Goodliffe, geophysicist at the University of Alabama, said other strange light phenomena exist such as St. Elmo's Fire from static charges across sea surfaces. Others are "gas hydrates," which occur when a gas escapes from the Earth's surface and ignites.

Goodliffe remained skeptical about spooklights, however. "As far as it being associated with plate boundaries and electrical charges, that's pushing the scientific frontier," said the researcher who hadn't previously heard of spooklights.

Another experience local residents had with spooklights was in the spring of 1973 when a rash of reported UFO sightings in Lexington stirred up residents.

"Have you heard about the Unidentified Flying Objects in the Shoals Area? If you haven't, you're way behind," wrote Lucille Prince for the TimesDaily in Feb. 6, 1973, article.

By the early 1980s, the paper reported "Local UFO Investigation Team Gets Saucer Theory Shot Down." The team included Cox and his friend, Greg Keeton.

Cox, a Wilson High School graduate, works for the electrical utility at the Hartwell power plant near the Georgia-South Carolina state line.

Cox, who also has written about UFO and Bigfoot sightings in Alabama, said he used long time exposures to photograph the lightballs because, "you can get more information out of a time exposure."

Pulsations and even a tinier sidekick balls of light can be seen with long camera exposures, Cox said.

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