The Wow! Signal
Ever wondered why the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) projest is still going on despite the abysmal lack of results?
We need to get back to the August 15th 1977, to the Big Ear radio observatory in Ohio.
An electrical engineering professor, Jerry Ehman PhD, had volunteered to help out the SETI endeavor and was working the so called "graveyard shift" when the highly sensitive observatory picked up a very strong signal in an extremely narrow band. Amazed at how closely the signal matched the expected signature of a signal in the Big Ear antenna, Ehman circled the signal and wrote the now famous "Wow!" comment at margin. This remarkable piece of paper now resides in a museum.
The signal itself was absolutely remarkable: it lasted exactly 72 seconds and was picked up at 1420 MHz frequency (1420.445 MHz to be more precise). Bandwidth was less than 10 Hz. As Ehman remarked thirty years later never was such an intense signal picked up before or after.
The closest visible star to the approximate source is Tau Sagittari, +3.2 apparent magnitude, and 120 light years from us which is suspected to be a double star.
SETI has scanned the area over and over again but has failed to pick up anything else. Following observations with the Very Large Array radio observatory only one thing was certain: interstellar scintillation could be ruled out.
Of course both hardcore UFO believers and skeptics jumped on the bandwagon. Neither has been able to gain the upper hand and after interstellar scintillation was ruled out there are no explanations.
So here we have a genuine, certified mystery!
"Louhi spoke in riddled tones of three things to achieve: find and catch the Devil's Moose and bring it here to me. Seize the Stallion born of Fire, harness the Golden Horse. He captured and bound the Moose, he tamed the Golden Horse. Still there remained one final task: hunt for the Bird from the Stream of Death"
-Kalevala, Rune XIII-