Drawing even more tourists than Chinati are the mysterious Marfa Lights (about 8 miles east of Marfa on U.S. Hwy. 90, 915/729-4942), typically visible just after dusk on clear evenings. These bouncing, splitting, and disappearing ethereal orbs have confounded people for more than a century (but mostly in the past six decades), and the viewing center just off the highway hosts thousands of curiosity seekers annually who flock to the site for a chance to see the mystifying white, yellow, and orange lights suspended in the air with no apparent source.
Adding to the intrigue is their distance—at any given time they appear to be either 10 yards away or 10 miles away. There are many theories about the unexplained phenomenon, some related to Apache Indian folklore, UFO sightings, or vehicle headlights; however, a scientific explanation has yet to emerge.
First documented in 1883, explanations for the lights range from swamp gasses to bizarre bouts of electrostatic discharge to moonlight shining on shiny rocks in the Chinati Mountains. Scientists acknowledge their existence but take some of the fun out of the phenomena by suggesting the lights are a mirage-like visual effect caused by the interaction of cold and warm layers of air, causing light to bend and move. Regardless, the absence of a valid and accepted explanation is ultimately the Marfa Lights’ main draw. They defy explanation, and that’s exactly why people continue to marvel at their mystery.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition