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Astronomers Prepare to Bid Farewell to "Big Ear"
For more information contact: Dr. H. Paul Shuch, Executive Director
(201) 641-1770, or email info_at_setileague_dot_org

For Immediate Release

LITTLE FERRY, NJ.., July 26, 1997 -- Scientists from around the world will gather in Delaware OH at 8 PM on Friday evening, August 15th, to bid farewell to the "Big Ear" radio telescope, home to the longest running SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) experiment ever conducted. Several years ago the land was sold out from under the observatory, which has been operated by the Ohio State University since 1962, and actively pursuing SETI since 1974. The lease under which the facility has been operating has now expired, and the great antenna is being dismantled to make way for a golf course.

Just 20 years ago, on August 15, 1977, "Big Ear" detected the most famous, and intriguing, candidate signal to date in the search for signals from other worlds. The so-called "Wow!" signal, which was featured in the TV program "The X-Files," never repeated, and has never been explained. Dr. Jerry Ehman, the scientist credited with the discovery of the "Wow!" signal, will be a guest of honor at the farewell party, which also marks the 20th anniversary of his remarkable find. "I came across the strangest signal I had ever seen, and I immediately scribbled 'Wow!' next to it," Ehman explained. "I think there are undoubtedly many intelligent civilizations out there, some of which are certainly more advanced than we are -- and if they wanted to send us a beacon signal, this would be the best way to do it using the least energy," Ehman said. "But I've trained as a scientist, maybe too well, and I'm still waiting to see them first hand. I'm definitely a skeptic."

"It is a tragic commentary on the value judgements of our society," states Dr. Robert S. Dixon, the observatory's Assistant Director, "to see humankind's longest search for their brethren in the universe forced to stop, as its telescope is destroyed to make way for a commercial golf course." Participation in the bittersweet celebration, which the news media is invited to cover, is open to a limited number of SETI League members and OSU Radio Observatory volunteers, on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are being taken by email message only, to, and will be confirmed by return email.

SETI scientists seek to determine through microwave and optical measurements whether humankind is alone in the universe. Since Congress terminated NASA's SETI funding in 1993, The SETI League and other scientific groups have been attempting to privatize the research. Experimenters interested in participating in the search for intelligent alien life, or citizens wishing to help support it, should email to join_at_setileague_dot_org, check the SETI League Web site at, send a fax to +1 (201) 641-1771, or contact The SETI League, Inc. membership hotline at +1 (800) TAU-SETI. Be sure to provide us with a postal address to which we will mail further information. The SETI League, Inc. is a membership-supported, non-profit [501(c)(3)], educational and scientific corporation dedicated to the electromagnetic Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.

P.S. Tearsheets are always appreciated. Thank you.

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