small logo Sing a Song of SETI

Ballad of the "Wow!" Signal
lyrics Copyright © 1995 by H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D.
sung to the tune of Ballad of Springhill by Peggy Seeger,
Copyright © 1961 Stormking Music Inc. (used by permission)
Melody selected as a tribute to Peggy's brother, radio astronomer Charles Seeger.

It was fifteen August of 'seventy seven
At the Big Ear radio telescope
That a signal heard on the Hydrogen Line
Gave humanity cause for hope.

Declination at minus twenty seven
Right ascension nineteen hours and change.
When the signal rose out of the noise
The astronomers knew it was something strange.

The signal peaked at thirty sigma,
Thirty seven seconds at half power,
In a single channel ten kilohertz wide.
The computer printout logged the hour.

The CPU analyzed the signal,
The strongest ever seen somehow.
Jerry Ehman's eyes betrayed surprise
As he wrote in the margin one word: "Wow!"

Was the Wow! a call from a distant planet?
Sadly, we may never learn.
Though we looked again a hundred times,
The signal never did return.

That the Wow! came from an intelligent species
Never could be convincingly shown.
Yet we still scan the skies with our radio eyes,
Because we know we are not alone.

Performed by Dr. SETI ® on the CD "Sing a Song of SETI" Sing a Song of SETI CD

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