I attended a meeting of SARA (Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers) at the NRAO (National Radio Astronomy Observatory) facility at Greenbank, WV on July 13, 14, 15, 1997 and afterwards stayed an extra 2 days making observations by using the 40-foot radio telescope there. I used this scope at 1420 mhz using the drift scan method of setting the scope's declination and then taking measurements of the intensity of the signal as it drifted by through the time of its right ascension. I took readings during the evening of July 16 and 17.
The above graph shows the elevated area that took place during an interval of around 15 seconds on July 16. A similar elevated area which had more high points on it was observed on July 17 at around the same RA and declination. That is the one that I am looking at in the control room computer in the photo below. Unfortunately, I lost the computer data for the second day. Since the tops of the graph did not have the rounded shape of a natural signal, it could have been caused by some unexplained interference. To see if it was related to a natural signal, I checked the online VLA sky survey map but the area around 70 Virginis was not available.
The purpose of my observations was to investigate the area of of 70 Virginis for signs of intelligent life trying to send out communications to us. 70 Virginis is a star that has been shown to have a planet around it. My approach has always been a skeptical one and my hypothesis is that I did not expect to find any sign of intelligent life using the simple drift scan method with the 40-foot scope. And I can say that the data does support my hypothesis this time. And I would also be quite happy to find out that some future data did not support my hypothesis. Looking at it that way makes it into a "win-win" situation.
I did not observe any evidence in the data of any signs of extra-terrestrial intelligence. The data received on both days could have been caused by some local interference, interference from distant lightning, or experimental error. However, the data did occur on 2 separate days and I think that does make it into a possible anomaly worthy of more investigation. An ancient Chinese proverb is quoted in one of Carl Sagan's last books', THE DEMON-HAUNTED WORLD,: "Better to be too credulous than too skeptical". I think that perhaps in this case it would be better to wonder more rather than to doubt the findings too much. I do think that the area around 70 Virginis should be investigated more and I encourage others to investigate that area.
I am only an amateur radio astronomer who enjoys investigating the unknown and trying to pass that on to the students I teach. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to be able to use a professional radio telescope at Greenbank both for this investigation and others that I have done during the past 5 years both on and off the site. I want to thank Albert Ernst for his help with setting up the 40-foot this time, and for all of those who inspired me from SARA, the SETI League, and the NRAO.
You can see how I used the 40-foot radio telescope in my high school biology class by linking to PROJECT SETI by James A. Petrait at Genentech's ACCESS EXCELLENCE site.
If you want to take a look at my meteorite photos go to Visitors From Outer Space.
And if you want to check out my closeup photo of the particles in a Murchison meteorite sample then take a look at Microscopic Murchison Photo.
You can see more photos of the 40-foot and my biographical data at my first home page. Go to the gateway for that site by linking to the The Cyberuniverse of James A. Petrait
If you want to find out more about radio astronomy and many other topics, go to the Selected Links From the Bookmark Files of James A. Petrait
My research at Greenbank has similarities with a recent movie. You can find out more about it by linking to the homepages of the movie, CONTACT - at Geocities or go to CONTACT - at Warner Bros.
Return to my cybergalaxy and be sure to take a look at my comet Hale-Bopp photos and to the homepage of St.Joseph High School where I teach. Go back to the The Cybergalaxy of James A. Petrait
Students may send messages into the universe at the PROJECT SETI COMMUNICATIONS STATION
© 1997, James A. Petrait
Send e-mail to James A. Petrait: email@example.com