Today’s guest post was written by Ed Ammons
I remember seeing what we thought were the “Northern Lights” from Wiggins Creek. They looked like waves of colors going across the sky. At the time we didn’t know that the aurora borealis couldn’t be seen that far south (or so said the teachers in school.) So we assumed we were seeing lights from a city to the north of us. The nearest city in that direction would have been Knoxville. Of course you have Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge now but they were only villages at that time.
I remember seeing these lights in the northern sky several times. It happened only on clear, cold, moonless, winter nights. Brother Harold speculated that the lights were coming from experiments at Oak Ridge National Laboratory which was in the same general direction. This was during the height of the Cold War and we were sure that the Russians were bound to blow up Fontana Dam and Oak Ridge at any time.
Further study reveals that the Northern Lights are visible at times as far south as the 35th parallel.
You’ll have to stay up until around midnight to get the best chance of seeing the lights. February and March are the best months according to NOAA.
One other incident I remember was when I saw one cloud around midnight in an otherwise cloudless, moonless sky. It was roughly the shape of a football but had no definite borders. In other words it appeared fuzzy. Ordinarily you can’t see clouds under those conditions, but this one appeared to have a glow. A pinkish glow! Kinda like the red clouds at sunset but the sun had been down for hours. Like pink cotton candy. The cloud first appeared in the northeastern sky and drifted slowly southeast over the course of about 30 minutes until it disappeared over the ridge toward Licklog. Once again I got Harold up to watch. Once again we attributed it to an accidental release of radioactive gas from Oak Ridge. This manifestation only happened once to my knowledge and has never had a viable explanation.
If you have any strange sky happenings I hope you’ll share them with me.