Wow! Signal, Might Not be so Wow!

In 1977, Ohio State University Radio Observatory, or Big Ear, was searching the heavens for extraterrestrial radio signals. In August of that year, analyst Jerry Ehman spotted a significantly longer and stronger signal thWow_signalan previously recorded, circled the printout and wrote “Wow!” in the margins. This signal’s frequency was very close to what observers hypothesized an intelligent transmission might look like. It was never picked up again.

An independent group of interested parties renewed my interest in the Wow! Signal when they launched the Arecibo Project in 2014. I’ve been checking in on their website, and although it’s interesting, there have been no concrete findings.

But now, Antonio Paris, an astronomer at St. Petersburg College in Florida and Director of the Aerial Phenomena Investigation Team may have an explanation for the signal. It’s not aliens; it’s comets.

A vast amount of hydrogen is released when comets swing around the sun, and ultraviolet radiation splits water vapor molecules (water is H2O, hydrogen and oxygen). The release of hydrogen is significant because the frequency they were looking for in 1977 was the signal emitted by hydrogen. Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe, and the idea was that other intelligent beings would recognize this fact and use it for communication. The Wow! Signal was very close to the 1420 megahertz signal that hydrogen emits.

800px-Comet_over_Munich_1

By Hans Bernhard (Schnobby) (own work) http://creativecommons.org/license/by-sa/3.o or GFDL http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Tracing the path of two comets back to August of 1977, Paris feels it’s possible they were in the vicinity of Big Ear during that time. In 1977, no one knew Comet 266P/Christensen or Comet P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs) existed, so there was no way to attribute the signal to them.

Other experts are skeptical about Paris’ hypothesis. Some doubt that comets could generate enough hydrogen to create a signal as strong as the Wow! Signal, otherwise they would be picking up this type of signature more often, which they don’t.

The two comets in question will pass by the same region in January of 2017 (Comet 266P/Christensen) and January of 2018 (P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs)). Analysis of the hydrogen signals should reveal if Paris’ hypothesis is correct.

Paris’ hypothesis seems perfectly reasonable and quite likely. There is a part of me; however, that hopes he is not correct. I like the idea that aliens are possibly trying to reach out to us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down with War of Worlds or Independence Day type aliens, but the possibilities of who or what is out in the cosmos intrigues me.

aliens

Until next time, Never Turn off the Lights, and keep an eye on the night skies. You never know who may drop by for a visit…or domination.

For more:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28747-famous-wow-signal-might-have-been-from-comets-not-aliens/

http://dailygrail.com/Alien-Nation/2016/1/Wow-Signal-Receives-Meh-Explanation

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Wow! Signal Revisited?

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Wow_signal

Image of the original printout and notation.

Piggy-backing on my visit to Area 52 an other interesting UFO story has caught my attention.

In 1977 Ohio State University Radio Observatory, known as Big Ear,  was in full operation. For its part in Ohio State University’s SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project Big Ear searched for extraterrestrial radio signals. Back in those days the data gathered from the radio telescope was processed by a mainframe computer to be printed out. Each print out had to be gone over by hand. How archaic, right? I’m sure there is an app for that now.

In August of that year a man named Jerry Ehman was pouring over the printouts. He spotted the alphanumeric sequence “6EQUJ5”,  circled it and wrote “WOW!” in the margin. This would become to be known as the Wow! signal.

It may not seem very wow-worthy until you understand the significance of the find. At that time, scientists hypothesized that since hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and emits a signal at a frequency of 1420 megahertz, extraterrestrials may send out a signal similar to it. The idea was that extraterrestrials may think that other intelligent beings would recognize the signature of hydrogen thus recognize the signal as intelligent communication. The Wow! signal was significantly more powerful than previously recorded ones and lasted for a longer period, 72 seconds. Even more astonishing, it was very close to 1420 megahertz! Unfortunately the signal was never picked up again despite attempts to scan the area of space that it originated from. Big Ear was dismantled in 1998.

On the 37th anniversary of the Wow! signal an independent group of researchers led by Joshua P. Warren commenced the Arecibo Project and transmitted radio messages into space from areas around Puerto Rico. The messages included GPS coordinates and a request to appear there. They placed a live webcam to stream images from the GPS location. Several anomalies were captured, including a high-pitch tone that accompanied a saucer-shaped object. When the team examined the tone they found it to be acutely similar to the Wow! signal. The team has placed all of their findings at http://areciboproject.com and are requesting that others with expertise analyze the evidence.

I’m certainly not a video, audio, or UFO expert but the images are interesting. I’m going to try and keep tabs on this, I’m curious if other experts can verify the findings. If that’s the case, let’s just hope that whoever or whatever decided to follow the GPS coordinates on the footage (and in the future) is friendly. But in the words of Peter Venkman, the whole problem with aliens is you just can’t trust them. Occasionally you meet a nice one, Star Man, E.T., but usually they turn out to be some kind of big lizard!

Area 52: Good, Sandy Fun!

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve, Colorado Photo by Joy Yehle all rights reserved ©

My visit to Area 52 was fun and restful. The first time I came here I was around 5 or 6 years old. I don’t know why I waited so long to come back!

The Dunes provide a beautiful foreground to the Sangre De Cristo mountain range. The scenery is striking at any time of the day but we were afforded some of the most spectacular sunsets Colorado has to offer.

Great Sand Dunes at sunset

Great Sand Dunes at Sunset Photo by Joy Yehle ©

The sand dunes provide a surreal landscape. Not somewhere you would want to be lost!

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve

We rented some sand boards and sleds. The way down is awesome, the way up…feel the burn! Not just your muscles but the sand was hot, hot, hot! Fortunately, we could cool off in Medano Creek. The cool wet sand was perfect for digging, building, and generally being awesome!

Good Times at the Sand Dunes!

Good Times at the Sand Dunes!

As it got dark we turned our attention to the skies. It would have been pretty crazy if that cloud had actually been a mothership in disguise, but no such luck.

Sangre De Cristo Mountains Photo by Joy Yehle ©

Sangre De Cristo Mountains Photo by Joy Yehle ©

No Bigfoot, but the deer in the area are pretty darn friendly. This photo was taken without using the zoom. She was so quiet that the folks camping about 10 feet from her didn’t know she was in the bush!

Sneaky Little Visitor

Sneaky Little Visitor

The San Luis Valley is a reported paranormal hot spot. My mom’s family is originally from this area and I have heard the stories my whole life. I believe this may be what fostered my interest in the paranormal. I was slightly disappointed that I didn’t see Bigfoot, an UFO, an apparition, nor did I witness a vortex. But just slightly.

The paranormal rarely “works” on demand. It was quiet for us on this trip but who knows about the next?

San Luis Valley at Sunset

San Luis Valley at Sunset

As for now I’m going to enjoy the last few days of summer break because in seven days something really scary is happening…school starts!

Forget Area 51, I’m going to Area 52!

Peter Fitzgerald [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Peter Fitzgerald [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I’m taking a mini-vacation next week with my two sisters and their families. We are packing up 7 adults and 7 kids and heading for the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve in southern Colorado. It’s a fascinating geological oddity. Who would have thought that the tallest sand dunes in North America are in landlocked Colorado?

The area used to be covered by an ancient lake, when the lake dried up the silt and sand were left behind. The majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains create a wall causing the winds to drop their tiny sand particles to the tune of 750 feet tall dunes. Spanning more than 30 square miles it has been referred to as the world’s largest sandbox. My kids are excited at the prospect of massive sand castles and “sledding” on sand. I’m excited for an entirely different reason.

The Dunes are located in the San Luis Valley, known in some circles as Area 52 because of the numerous UFO sightings and hundreds of reports of livestock mutilations. For a small fee you can head to the UFO Watchtower platform where you can get a 360° view of the night sky but many of the hundreds of  reported sightings have come from all over the valley. Not sure if we will make it over to the Watchtower but we will be watching the skies.

Night watching is something my family has always done when camping. Without the light pollution of the city the sky is alive with light, some of them behaving in unnatural ways. However, the most dramatic UFO sighting I ever had was in the late afternoon in a busy suburb of Denver.

I was driving on the south side of a large golf course and country club with my young daughter in the back seat, I think she was about 10 years old or so. I noticed out of the corner of my eye what at first my brain decoded as the full moon hovering just above the greens. It quickly dawned on me that the moon wouldn’t be visible at that angle at this time of day. As I looked over to get a better look at it, it dropped straight down and disappeared into the ground. I thought maybe I was seeing things but when my daughter asked if I had seen “that”, I knew we had witnessed something very strange.

The San Luis Valley has reports of vortexes, ghosts, and cryptid sightings in addition to UFOs. I’m always hoping to witness weird and strange things so I’m really looking forward to hanging out in this paranormal hot spot. I’ll let you know how it went when I get back. Until then, Never Turn Off the Lights, on second thought it doesn’t really matter. UFOs usually provide their own.