You used to see them at grand openings, movie premiers. big sales, and just about any event. They were large, mirrored, carbon arc lights which projected a bright beam far into the sky. I know my family would often follow one (or more) to see what was going on.
Gone now, huh?
Lotsa pictures here.

I seem to have posted this jewel in the wrong trousers, I mean forum.
If a moderator would be so kind as to move it to MPSIMS, that would be cool.

I remember them as a kid. I was once told that they were mostly WW2 surplus items - though inherently rather expensive, you apparently could buy them cheaply for some while after the war. I think their numbers started to dwindle seriously in the '70s.

I still see them from time to time. There was one lighting up the sky a month or so back that I could see from my apartment.

They still exist. I saw one as recently as a year ago that turned out to be at a car dealership.

Searchlight trivia: the cathedral of light was designed by nazi architect Albert Speer.

The Tribute in Light was a temporary art installation installed near the site of the World Trade Center in 2002 and again every year on the anniversary. It’s made up of 88 searchlights (and, I think, is a much better memorial than anything else I’ve heard suggested, especially given its ephemeral nature).

I saw searchlights earlier this evening.

They’re very popular out here. They come in a 4-light setup, mounted on a trailer. Each light pivots independently to provide a mini lightshow in the sky.

We have searchlights mounted on one of the local sports arenas (the ACC Centre, home to our NBA and NHL teams). I always know there’s a game on if I can see the beams in the distance.

Hell, they even incorporated them into the logo.


While I was taking out the trash for work on a cloudy night about twenty years ago, I saw four disks shoot across the sky. After believing for a full thirty seconds that I had seen four UFOs, I realized they were searchlights. I’ll never forget that WTF?! feeling, though.

Oh, you guys play hockey up there?

I remember those. They can make them “dance”.

Depends on who you ask. Me, I think they just pretend at playing hockey. :stuck_out_tongue:

Sorry, gotta go… the police are here to drag me kicking and screaming to the city limits for being a bad Torontonian.

I can see them on any given night because either the Aurora or Elgin IL casinos will have them running, or it’s the grand opening of something else. I’ve driven past them while they’re doing their thing, and I swear if you looked right at one you’d cook your eyeballs.

I see them at car dealerships and sometimes at sporting events.

The “Sky Tracker” xenon spots seem to be the only surviving style now, and they’re a pale imitator to a real carbon-arc searchlight being swung around by hand.

I saw searchlights over my town last week. I don’t know what they were there for, though. I didn’t drive into town to see what was up.

I see them fairly often here in San Francisco. When the Castro Theater has a huge event, they bring in the searchlights, and I remember going to the grand re-opening of the Metro Theater, they had searchlights.

Stuff like that is neat, but honestly, I see them so often they’re not special anymore. Maybe every other weekend I see one or two sets.

It seems that either I live in a searchlight-poor area, or I need to get out more.
Or both.

They’re in my night sky fairly often; I live near car-dealer row. The arena near my office uses them, too.

They’re not that impressive in the Colorado night sky, in my opinion. Just not enough water vapor to scatter the light and make a good visible beam, I figure. They’ve got to light up the pollution instead.