Silent Night, Holy Light?

by Dennis on December 24, 2009

The photograph above was taken in the early hours of Christmas morning, 2001. I’ve visited Stonehenge on literally hundreds of occasions and I’ve seen thousands of images of the ruins over the years, but this is without doubt the single most tantalising and evocative picture of the monument that I’ve ever gazed upon.

I first became aware of this picture’s existence a few years ago, so I’m extremely grateful to Jasmine Bonning, Director of Archaeosophia, for succeeding where everyone else had failed, in managing to track down the original and its owner.

Jasmine has long been aware of my interest in Stonehenge, and I’d also told her about the curious phenomenon whereby the stones sometimes seem to ‘draw down starlight’. I had been told about this years ago by English Heritage custodians at Stonehenge, when I used to live on Salisbury Plain and I visited the ruins on a regular basis over the course of a decade.

I witnessed the subtle effect of the stones somehow seeming to ‘draw down starlight’ in 2007, when English Heritage kindly allowed me private access to the monument after dark as part of an official group studying astronomical alignments there, and I also examined the phenomenon at some length in my book “The Missing Years of Jesus“, on pages 127 & 128.

In brief, Jasmine discovered that this haunting photograph had been taken at Stonehenge in the early hours of Christmas Day, 2001, by a Mr Onizuka, who lives in Kumamoto city, Japan. This gentleman had then transferred the rights to Professor Nobuhiro Yoshida, President of the Japan Petrograph Society, International University of Hiroshima, and National Representative for the International Federation of Rock Art Organisations, or IFRAO, & the International Council of Monuments and Sites, or ICOMOS.

Professor Yoshida believes that this photo shows ‘geoluminescence’ or another property he calls ‘hormesis‘, while ‘Earth lights’ and related phenomena have been studied in great depth over the years by Paul Devereux and the various members of the Dragon Project.

Harsh necessity forces me to keep this post much briefer than I would have ideally liked, sadly, but I’m sure I’ll return to it another time. I’m not an expert on photography, so I cannot decide precisely what the picture shows, but of all the images I’ve ever seen of this iconic British monument, it is by far and away the most striking one and it made an instant impression on me. This alone makes it worth presenting to the world, to my mind.

This is a time of year when many of us are drawn to thinking of the Magi, ‘Guiding Stars‘ and other celestial apparitions that have long possessed the power to evoke wonderment. Stonehenge itself is surely the epitome of an ancient structure with the ability to call forth feelings of fascination and awe, so I’m very grateful to Professor Yoshida for allowing me to reproduce this curious photograph that combines ‘fires in the sky’ with the most mysterious prehistoric ruins known to man.

Mirabile visu.

On that hopefully uplifting and entrancing note, my warm and sincere thanks to everyone who has visited Eternal Idol in 2009, and I wish you all a very merry and enjoyable Christmas.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex Down December 24, 2009 at 6:40 pm

It’s certainly an intriguing and tantalizing photo, as Dennis says, and wonderfully appropriate for Christmas Eve. Without wanting to break the Christmas spell, I’m surprised that no one else has seen this phenomenon, even the guards who’re there every night. Yet some Japanese gentleman strolls up on his Stonehenge-Wells-Bath tour and grabs an amazing image that no one else has seen before or since …

I wonder if it’s possible that the honourable Japanese gentleman had one of the newly popular Japanese DSLR cameras (this is 2001), and had adapted it for IR (infrared) photography by removing the infrared blocker in front of the CCD and replacing it with a filter that removes visible light. IR photos from DSLRs have a red cast to them. I’m no expert, but this looks like IR photography to me, perhaps not even shot at night.

The smearing of the light can be caused by moving the camera vertically, probably with a light mist at night, or rain or even snow, while there’s an obvious source of IR radiation on the tops of many of the stones – birds roosting. We’ve all seen crowds of birds on the tops of the stones in daylight and at dusk.

But it seems churlish to be too prosaic about this. It’s a great image, and has made my Christmas. Thanks for the picture and story, Dennis! A very Happy Christmas to you and all on EI.

Juris December 24, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Dennis -

Just saw the post on EI about the Stonehenge lights. Attached picture I took in January 2006 here in Apple Valley with a similar phenomenon.

As I recall when I looked into it I found an explanation involving certain kinds of “flat” snow particles along with various other weather, etc., conditions, that reflect the lights in a certain way.

Don’t know how this might apply to the Stonehenge picture – question is what is the source of the lights? Ground illumination within Stonehenge? Do not know.


Juris December 24, 2009 at 8:10 pm
Aynslie December 24, 2009 at 10:45 pm

The lights in the Stonehenge photo don’t seem to have quite the same quality about them as the others, although all of the photos are stunning.

Thanks for sharing the photo and your brief thoughts, Dennis, but–and I say this in the utmost friendly and caring manner–stay off your laptop! Rest, recover, and give your time to that wonderful family of yours. Get well. Enjoy the quiet.

Best wishes, everyone, for the holiday season.

JohnWitts December 25, 2009 at 10:28 am

What is the light source at Stonehenge? The only thing I can think of is a car’s headlights?

Dennis January 30, 2011 at 9:37 pm

My thanks to Jasmine Bonning for sending in this link showing unusual light displays, similar to those in Professor Yoshida’s photograph. If anyone has any thoughts on the matter, informed or otherwise, I’d be glad to hear them.

Dan J January 31, 2011 at 12:22 pm

The picture is great, but I failed to see any UFO’s lurking about. Actually, I’ve seen something similar though not with a corn milling stack. I think what we have here is a thermal inversion with cold temperatures and very little wind. causing the moisture-laden air from the stack to rise until it hits the inversion layer, at which point it spreads sideways forming the top cone. I’m sure everyone has seen the same in daylight with smoke, where it rises so far and spreads instead of continuing to rise. The ambient light obvious in the picture would probably limit the zone of visibility of the feature to create the nice pillar with a v on top, especially if it is dead calm.

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