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Spooklights 101 * Introduction

You may have seen ghost lights before, or heard about their existence in a location near you. Usually this phenomenon is described as a glowing ball or balls of light. The lights seem to come in every color of the rainbow, although at some sites the balls emit only one or two colors of light. The lights can sparkle, be stationary or in motion, high in the air or low to the ground. Generally the lights are said to exhibit some sort of bizarre behavior, such as vanishing or displaying evasive action when one moves too close to them.

Ghost lights have also been called will o' the wisps, spooklights, and earthlights. In the United States, the most ghost lights are found in the southern and western portions of the country. The lights are fixed to a specific location, and the local geography often includes mountainous or swampy terrain. Unlike other forms of strange phenomena, ghost lights are comparatively reliable in their appearance, and in some places the lights have been the subject of scientific study. Despite this, the source of most such lights remains a mystery.

Many theories and legends surround these mysterious lights. Some scientific attempts at explaining the lights include reflections from nearby traffic or towns, ignited gas from marshland, and, where ghost lights exist near faultlines, some sort of sub-atomic particle reactions. Common folktales told by the locals usually involve ghostly Indian braves, phantom trains, or UFO's. Unfortunately, encroaching development in many communities has seemed to extinguish some of the old reliable ghost lights, indicating that the lights probably do have a natural explanation.

In his book Handbook of Unusual Natural Phenomena, William R. Corliss divides "nocturnal lights" into five categories: Will-o'-the-wisps, ghost lights, hot natural flames, UFO-like lights, and physiological and psychic lights. This website concerns itself with the first two categories.

There are dozens of ghost light articles on, ranging from sightings to historical folklore to information. If you'd like to report a sighting or share other information about ghostlights, please email me using one of the contact forms above.


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