Which part of the sky did the famous 'wow' signal originate from?
Which part of the sky did the famous 'wow' signal originate from in 1977 by the big ear radio telescope in ohio?
I looked up the astronomical coordinates of the "Wow" signal in a journal article where astronomers were describing their efforts to monitor the location in hopes of seeing another "event". There are actually two possible locations, because the Ohio State University radio telescope observed in two directions simultaneously. The difference in radio intensity between each of these directions was printed by the computer, but the computer did not print which of the two beams had the stronger signal. So basically, the signal has a declination of -27 deg 3 min (plus or minus 20 min) while the right ascension can be either 19h22m22s or 19h25m12s depending which of the two locations it was at. (In case you don't know, declination is similar to latitude in the sky and is measured in degrees, minutes and seconds, while right ascension is like longitude and is measured in hours, minutes, and seconds of time. I'm not sure what your background is, but in case you're an amateur astronomer, these coordinates are in old B1950 coordinates. This doesn't matter at all unless you need to point a telescope at the exact location.)
So where is this in the sky? Both positions are in the constellation Sagittarius, which is the same constellation that contains the galactic center, although the "wow" signal didn't come exactly from the center. The two positions are close enough to each other that for casual viewing it doesn't much matter that they are different. If you want to look up where they are on a star map, the locations are slightly northwest of the globular cluster M55. If you've ever seen the constellation of Sagittarius in the sky, the constellation stars form a shape like a teapot, and the "wow" signal came from a region to the east of the handle of the teapot. Neither location lines up with any stars as far as we can tell.
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 26927 times since November 3, 2003.
Last modified: February 2, 2004 5:02:44 PM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)