What is SETI (Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence)? | SciWorx Astronomy

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is a collective term for scientific searches for intelligent extraterrestrial life, for example, monitoring electromagnetic radiation for signs of transmissions from civilizations on other planets.

Scientific investigation began shortly after the advent of radio in the early 1900s, and focused international efforts have been going on since the 1980s. In 2015, Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a well-funded effort called Breakthrough Listen.

My Closest Encounter

It was a September day in 1992 when me and some close friends were camping in Rock Castle Gorge near Floyd, Virginia.

Whenever I go camping I tote along a decent sized pair of binoculars for stargazing. I am not looking at anything particular, just looking. When it comes to stargazing, I am more of a casual tourist.

This Saturday night in September I saw something I had never seen before, something that should not and could not be there.

I first noticed a blinking light, to the north, about 330 degrees. It was high up. Very high up, well above normal commercial aircraft flight levels maybe 100,000 feet AGL. The blinking was maybe less the a one second cycle. The light was stationary relative to my position for about an hour, continuously blinking. At the end of the viewing, the blinking stopped, the object increased luminosity and then moved away astonishingly quick, up from its current position until it faded completely from view. If it had any tint to the color of the light it may have been blue, but I am unsure.

At first I thought maybe a quasar. “Do quasars give off radiation in the visible light band?” I thought to myself.  But the star field moved BEHIND it. The blinking light was holding steady. 

There was no evidence of it being an aircraft. There were no navigation lights and there wasn’t any evidence of a red rotating beacon. If it was a strobe, why were there no other lights? And why was it stationary? And I doubt there was some chucklehead pilot aboard flipping the landing light on and off for over an hour with perfect timing.

It wasn’t a helicopter. They can’t fly that high up. There isn’t enough air for rotor blades to maintain lift that high up. Besides, the object was about 4 times higher than the highest altitude helicopters currently available.

It wasn’t a meteor as it stayed stationary for over an hour.

It wasn’t a satellite. They move unless it is a geosynchronous satellite, those might blink to the observer and would remain in the same position in the sky, but they would only be visible to the south, behind me. I was looking the other direction.

So what was it? Here is what is wasn’t:

  • Quasar
  • Airplane
  • Helicopter
  • Meteor
  • Satellite

This clearly puts it as a UFO and in my opinion an extraterrestrial craft.

I am a big fan of Carl Sagan and he shaped my scientific view tremendously. He was often found to be advocating, “tremendous claims require tremendous evidence.” I totally agree. I am just one guy with one observation. But still, if you apply Occam’s Razor that stipulates all things being equal, the simplest explanation is usually the right one, you end up with an extraterrestrial craft.

If you apply Occam’s Razor to this observation, here are the competing ideas.

Quasar – if a quasar was rotating near Earth, within the orbit of the Moon, none of us would be alive right now.

Aircraft – if it was an airplane, the hovering and subsequent acceleration would have killed all aboard and resulted in a fiery crash.

Meteor – if it was a meteor that could stop and go, it would mean the meteor was under controlled navigation and meteors are just hunks of rock… that don’t blink.

Satellite – these objects move in a predetermined path, they do not hover, nor accelerate in other directions.

That leaves us with something from another world. They could have been scientists, observing mankind, or listening to Blue Oyster Cult’s (Don’t Fear) The Reaper on WROV 96.3 FM, Roanoke’s source for classic rock – The Rock Of Virginia!

But maybe they were just out and about. Maybe they were a lot like me, casual tourists in a very large universe.