In 1977, Ohio State University math professor Jerry Ehman walked into the Big Ear Observatory and looked over the past few nights’ observations. At the time, the radio telescope was the only observatory exclusively devoted to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).
It also was underfunded and had no full-time staff. That means no one was listening for aliens the night SETI had its closest call with the big one. On the night of Aug. 15, 1977, a 72-second signal arrived from de