The Ball does not refer to a formal dance/reception. In this case it is a fresnel lens system designed to guide a pilot to a dafe landing on an Aircraft Carrier. You guessed it, another USS Hornet pic.
So the middle section of this is set up kind of like how certain traffic lights work, you can only see them from a specific angle. So as you fly higher and lower compared to the glideslope, you see different lights. The idea is to line up the light that is even with the horizontal band of lights.
It's not easy, the ship is moving up and down and since your landing strip is moving away from you at an angle, you always have crosswind.
This is something I survived a few hundred times. I had the bruises to prove it.