compiled by Dee Finney

The Dream and the Reality

updated 11-13-04

Crop Circle Reported on 8-15-02 -

Pitt, just west of Winchester, Hampshire, UK

Paul Vigay's Crop Circle Site

 Richard Dreyfuss

Starred in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind - (1977)

I personally have seen this movie over 30 times

A Trip To Devil's Tower, Wyoming

Another view of the UFO in Close Encounters
of the Third Kind




NOTE: I had this dream before I saw the new crop circle above.


I was living in an apartment building. It was old-fashioned, with high ceilings and rather narrow rooms. The ceilings were at least 12 feet high.

I was in a bedroom which faced the street and could see a wide expanse of the sky. The sky was pure blue except for one round cloud. All of a sudden, the bottom of the cloud shot down pillars of light all around similar to the large one in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but many more of them.

I started screaming for everyone to look and then started hollering, "Where's the camera?"

I ran into the next room to get the camera, while everyone else was looking at the UFO. The camera was laying on the bed - a polaroid type and was still in a used state and wasn't ready for another picture yet. While I quickly struggled to get the camera ready, the UFO shot a donut shaped object down out of the center, which shot down and out of sight.

Just as I raised the camera to get a picture of the original UFO, it too shot out of sight in the direction of behind the building.

I was stunned that I missed the shot with the camera and vowed I'd always have a camera handy and ready to go.

Just as I thought that, a wide streak of black cloud appeared in the sky where the UFO had been and there was no way to see anything high up anymore - then the green shade on the window started flopping so I decided I would raise the shade all the way to the top. To raise a shade, you have to pull it down to release the spring, but when I did, the spring didn't release, it just kept coming down and eventually covered the whole window.

I was kind of mad at the shade and was contemplating ripping the whole shade off the window, when the window itself zipped itself down in size so it was about 3 x 4 feet rather than the 6 x 12 feet size it had been. The shade still covered the whole window.

I knew this was a manifestation of the UFO and started jumped up and down on the bed, shrieking with pure joy and glee. My shriek was so loud and piercing, the glass broke in the window. rather than falling down in shards like it normally would have, the glass evaporated and I kept right on jumping up and down on the bed with glee.

That episode ended, so I jumped off the bed and ran down the stairs out in the hallway and ran outside, hoping I'd see something in the sky in another direction.

When I got outside, there was still that wide streak of black cloud in the sky, and nothing else, but at the same time, from the next block over, I could hear teenage kids shooting off some kind of red flares or fire crackers up from heir car as they drove along, hollering out the car windows. They were rather cheering loudly about having seen the UFO, but then their cheering turned ugly and they wanted to blame someone for having brought the UFO into manifestation and I heard them saying, "Let's go throw pennies at her - she's a witch!"

I saw them coming and ran back up the stairs of my building, but they followed me, throwing pennies at me.

I stopped and confronted the teens at my door and asked them what was wrong with them.

One cute blonde girl said "You're a witch. It's your fault the UFO came!" The other kids chanted their agreement, "You're a witch! You're a witch!"

I grabbed the blonde girl by the cheeks on her face and shook her head and hollered at her, "What's wrong with you? Can't you see for yourself what's right in front of your own eyes?"

the other kids started throwing more pennies at me and calling me a witch.

At that point, my husband came out of an apartment door down the hall where he had been visiting and the two men chased the teens out of the building, admonishing the kids for accusing me of being a witch just because a UFO appeared in the sky.

The kids left and I realized a lot of time had passed and it was now 5 minutes to 12 and it was Christmas and the party down the hall was over and everyone was leaving just as I arrived.  I didn't realize until much later that there was a lot of missing time between the time the UFO showed up and when I went to the party at 5  to 12.

So I asked the people who had been feeding the party-goers if I could help clean up and that's what I did until I woke up.

NOTE: Several hours after I had this dream, I got an e-mail from announcing the 8-15-02 crop circle. I hadn't seen it before, and when I did, I got a rather sick feeling in my stomach.  The circular part of the crop formation, if you superimposed it over the UFO I had seen in the sky would be the same, and if you compare the UFO from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it is also similar to the crop circle formation.



Arecibo is on the northern coast of Puerto Rico and contains a natural disc-shaped hole in the rock. Inside this bowl was constructed the world's largest radio-telescope, with a diameter of 1000 feet. In 1974 a number of modifications had been carried out to the transmitter, enabling it to broadcast signals at a power of up to 20 terawatts (1 terawatt = 1 trillion watts) and as an inaugural test of these improvements it was decided by SETI to transmit an encoded message to the heavens. This signal was aimed towards the globular star cluster M13, some 25,000 light years away and consisting of some 300,000 stars in the constellation of Hercules.

The message was actually transmitted on November 16th 1974 and consisted of 1679 pulses of binary code (0's and 1's) - which took a little under three minutes to transmit. It was transmitted on a frequency of 2380MHz (which is significant later).

Why 1679 digits?

The reason for this is down to mathematics. 1679 is the unique product of two prime numbers; 23 and 73. Any sufficiently intelligent lifeform would no doubt look for unique, universal constructs - such as prime numbers, chemical element frequencies and binary digits. Don't forget that because we could be trying to communicate with an intelligence completely different to our own, we cannot talk in terms of 'human' systems, such as centimetres, feet, decimal numbers etc. Because ONLY the two prime numbers 23 and 73, when multiplied together, produce 1679 there can only be a single way to arrange the signal, if you were converting it into a matrix grid - 23 squares by 73 squares.

Paul Vigay's explanation of the message as sent.

Arecibo message as sent in 1974

Chilbolton - 2001 crop formation

Note the little ET and the bottom portion of the glyph, which will be explained below.

This was also part of the Chilbolton crop formation the same day in 2001

This is the Chilbolton Radio Communications Site where the crop formations appeared.

This appeared in the same field, the year BEFORE the Arecibo message return glyph, on August 13th, 2000.

This glyph appears in the return Arecibo message, of 2001, in the same place where the U.S. had the symbol of the radio dish, indicating the device that was used to communicate. The implication of the glyph, therefore, seems to be that this is the device that is being used to communicate to us by the circlemakers. It appears to be a type of binary symbolism as the one circle becomes two, the two become 4, then 8, then 16, but then instead of dividing into 32, it becomes 28.  The next row has 13 sets of 3 =39 on each side. There are 98 total circles. 98 divided by 2 = 49, which is the number of consciousness levels. Counting it in another way, including the rings, we get 110. This is the mystery. 

What's different in the Crop Formation? by Paul Vigay

After extensive analysis I have discovered nine major discrepancies between what we see in the crop field at Chilbolton and the original message that we transmitted to the stars in 1974. I shall leave any interpretation until later, but for now just highlight the differences. The exact detail of these changes couldn't be confirmed until I actually visited the formation on the ground, in order to accurately check the binary code - reading flattened crop as a 0 and standing crop squares as 1's. Rather than point out the differences in order of importance or anything, I shall merely start at the top of the pattern and work downwards.

The numbers 1 to 10 appear exactly the same in the formation. However the atomic numbers indicating the prevalent elements making up life on Earth, has an additional value inserted into the binary sequence. This is precisely added in the correct location, and in the original binary code (therefore it can't be a mistake). Decoding from the crop formation, this additional element has an atomic number of 14 = Silicon.
Moving down, the next change is an obvious one - consisting of an extra strand on the left side of the DNA double-helix. Another, less obvious, change is in the binary coding of the number of nucleotides in DNA itself (in the center). If you look in the diagram above, I've highlighted the changes more accurately on the right, by using red squares and outlines to indicate which 'digits' have been changed in the crop formation.
There are quite significant changes to the shape of the humanoid, which becomes almost 'alien-like' and to the diagram of the Arecibo dish. For clarity, I've not bothered going over these in red because the differences are easily apparent.
Either side of what is now an ET, there are changes to both the 'population' figure and also the height value. The latter is now 1000 in binary, or 8. If we multiply this by the original 'wavelength unit' we get 8*12.6cm = 100.8cm which is roughly 3'4" - interesting, because this would correlate with ET witness accounts.
Below this we notice additional changes to the Solar System chart. The third planet from the sun is not the only one 'highlighted' now. The fourth and fifth are as well. The fifth even appears to be emphasised even more, with three additional 'pixels'.
Lastly, what was representative of the Arecibo transmitter in the original message is even more cryptic and would imply a diagrammatic version of the formation which appeared in the same field at Chilbolton last year, in 2000. This can be viewed in my database, reference uk00ee.
The binary code for the size of the transmitter is also altered. I'll leave the reader to work out the new value....
What does it all mean?
I am hesitant to make too much of an interpretation myself, preferring to share the research and information with which to enable readers to continue the search for answers and further their own knowledge.
However, there are some fairly obvious implications from the crop formation. First, and quite obvious from the aerial view is the shape of the ET figure. This clearly has the little stick-like body with two arms and two legs, but has a much larger head and two distinct eyes. This is almost reminiscent of the 'Greys' of popular UFO culture. Indeed, the modified 'height' code corresponding to just over three feet would also confirm this aspect.
If you decode the 'population' binary sequence in the actual crop formation you get a value of approx 21.3 billion - a lot bigger than the original transmission, and indeed Earth's current population? Perhaps this is the population of their own planet, or even the combined human and ET population of Earth - if you believe, like some researchers, that Earth is already populated by an unseen ET contingency?? If you assume that the alterations to the 'Solar System' section in the crop formation refer to several planets, then this could also indicate the combined population of inhabited planets somewhere. I leave this for the reader to decide.
There is also some indication of a change in the basic DNA structure of ET. The additional (third) strand shown on the left and also a change in the number of nucleotides indicates a different DNA to ours. It seems quite similar to ours, so perhaps it's a genetic alteration or even a mutation of ours?

The difference in the Solar System information could indicate one of two scenarios; Either it still refers to our own Solar System, but in addition to highlighting Earth is also highlighting the fourth and fifth planets - Mars and Jupiter. Of course, the additional highlight on the 'fifth planet' could actually refer to the asteroid belt which lies between Mars and Jupiter and is in reality the 'fifth element' from the sun. Alternatively, it might not correspond to our own Solar System at all, but to the ET's own solar system - which would also appear to consist of nine planets. The sun is also depicted in the crop formation as slightly smaller. Could this be their smaller sun, or could it be supposed to represent some point in our own future - perhaps when the sun has become smaller and we've populated the other planets? This latter idea, although highly speculative, could even indicate the DNA modification through increased genetic experiments....?
The representation of last years formation in place of the Arecibo dish is possibly the most difficult to interpret. It could indicate a number of things, or merely indicate that ET saw the formation of last year and saw that as representative of the home of the message - ie Chilbolton.
However, if you look at the whole message on a more philosophical level, it's all centred around communication - and notifying the heavens of our existence. Could the representation of a crop circle (the shape, merely chosen because it was the one at the same 'home' location of the message) be to indicate that crop circles are indeed a form of communication? Irrespective of the origin of this formation, you cannot dispute the fact that people the world-over are communicating more because of their crop circle experiences!
Lastly, one significant difference that I also find very intriguing, and which I can exclusively reveal for the first time, concerns the table at the top containing the atomic numbers. The crop circle has an additional column added. However, as mentioned above, it's not an error because it's re-encoded and inserted in the correct sequence. Silicon? Could this be an additional pointer to the physiology of ET? Perhaps ET is a silicon based lifeform instead of carbon based, like us?
I haven't fully explained every discrepancy, merely because I'm deliberately keeping a couple of subtle aspects back so that we can ask for further explanation, should anyone claim it as a hoax.
I should point out at this point that the actual quality of the formation on the ground was remarkably good. However, it did appear to have been flattened in terms of a grid - ie. going across the formation and down the formation. The nearby 'face' formation was more elaborate in terms of the ground lay, as each individual circle appeared to have been swirled separately to the rest of the formation, indicated by a smooth swirl of crop around each circle, instead of being brushed across the formation, forming pathways between each circle.
However, both formations would represent an immense effort required in order to portray what we see in the field and from the air. To create either within the constraints of a few hours of darkness is extremely impressive irrespective of their origin; terrestrial or extra-terrestrial.
Again, irrespective of origin, both have taught me personally a great deal about SETI, human physiology, binary encoding and more importantly - communication, both in transcribing this for you the reader, as well as academic conversations I've had with people as a result of doing this analysis.

In 1976, the United States sent a message to the Universe to let 'the people'  of other planets in space know we are here. We called it Voyager. Here is the picture we had on the outside of the capsule.

Information About the Earth and Its Inhabitants Included on the Record

Message from The UN Secretary General
Message on the Record's Cover Message on the Record's Cover
We are still waiting for this message to be sent back to us.
This is the closest we have come.  This appeared in Laguna Canyon, CA in March, 1996

Here is the write up description.




Crop Circle - appeared Mar. 9, 1996

Laguna Canyon, CA

Nicole Torres vision

November, 1995

Note the date - it was 4 months before the
crop glyph appeared

The latest opinion:

Subj: EW: Physicist Ponders Alien Face Crop Circle

Date: 8/29/2002


ufo & extraterrestrial intelligence

artwork: Crabwood Crop Glyph

(The Electric Warrior) - Dr. Eltjo Haselhoff, the Dutch theoretical physicist known for his scientific investigation of the crop circle phenomenon, says he thinks a controversial alien face that recently appeared in an English wheat field is man-made.

Acknowledging an opinion based solely on his own "gut feeling", Haselhoff said the new formation is not the work of typical crop circle makers:

"It is clear that this formation is not a joke," says Haselhoff. "It took quite some effort, probably quite a lot of money, a lot of ingenuity as well as advanced equipment." The big question is why anyone would do it.

Appearing one year after two ET themed crop circles at Chilbolton, the alien face has once again prompted speculation that ET is trying to make contact.

If there's any evidence either for or against an extraterrestrial or weird science explanation researchers like Haselhoff will probably find it. Haselhoff's work on crop circles undergoes peer level review and is comparable to other alternative science efforts, like Mark Carlotto's investigation of Cydonia.

In the mean time, the truth is still very much "out there" on this one. Some of you think it's bona fide alien, some of you think it's bogus. The Electric Warrior thinks it's a good idea to maintain a sense of humor on the topic. That sure beats the kind of societal chaos that's supposed to ensue whenever ET shows up.



One of the things you can do with a grayscale image like the alien face crop circle is blur it, so that it looks more photographic. This fellow appears to be reaching straight out of the picture as if handing us something.

Say what you like, it's an extraordinary piece of 20th century "field art". Get an overview of this weird crop formation and read why EW humorously suggests, "These guys must be peace-niks."

go to> Alien Bit Stream: The 2002 Alien Face Crop Glyph




The Crabwood Discussion

(DCCCS) - First of all, thanks to all of you who took the trouble to react on my short article. I have always been a fan of intelligent discussions and open sharing of thoughts, and I hope these discussions about the Crabwood formation help all of us to understand this incredible formation a little better...I nevertheless stick to my earlier statement, which is that I believe (!) the Crabwood formation is man-made.

Crop Circles Made by "Balls of Light"

(DCCCS) - My paper shows that the node lengthening in several crop circles corresponds perfectly to the effect that would be created by a ball of light, heating up the crop during the creation of the crop circle. This is not the case for a man-made formation...conclusions published in peer-reviewed scientific journals can not be simply dismissed as wild fantasy or pseudo-science.



August 28, 2002

Silicon Valley, CA

Graphics & Gonzo


Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer - Arecibo Project Phoenix in Puerto Rico

"We don’t look for cell phones, of course. Our intention is to find a beacon either accidentally or deliberately pointed our way – a radio signal that would tell us we’re not alone in the galaxy. "

Project Phoenix is a systematic search of nearby star systems, with emphasis on those that seem to be most like the Sun. For hours at a time, the 1,000-foot (305-meter) Arecibo antenna keeps its gaze fixed on a single star, its motors grinding as it compensates for Earth’s rotation.

The Project Phoenix staff especially appreciates the sensitivity. We can detect a narrow-band broadcast from another world if it's splashing as little as 0.0000000000000000000001 watts of power onto the observatory's 1,000-foot dish. If aliens 100 light-years distant wield an Arecibo-sized antenna, a pipsqueak 10 kilowatt transmitter will be sufficient to get in touch. That's the power consumed by a dozen hair driers.

But would they try to get in touch? After all, earthlings don't deliberately broadcast to aliens, so why should the aliens broadcast to us? Answering this question requires some insight into alien psychology. Alas, the professional literature on this subject is meager. The extraterrestrials may have large transmitters set up to search for incoming comets, or in service as a galactic GPS system. Maybe they've established space colonies and are beaming communiques back and forth. Earthlings have had radio for a century. Some aliens may have had it for tens of millennia. It's hard to guess what use they might make of this technology

But one thing is indisputable; radio is the least expensive way to send bits of information from star to star. Whatever the aliens might be up to, it is more than reasonable to assume that they're filling the galaxy with radio signals.

So The System grinds on, stepping methodically up the dial, moving from star to star. In the last week, the most exciting source has been 4181, an F7 star 250 light-years away. The System found a signal in the direction of 4181 that was so compelling, it rang pagers back in California. The putative alien transmission turned out to be only a bit of strong, earthly radar.

That was a false alarm, but the real thing could still happen. There's a magnum of Mumm Cuvee Napa chilling in the corner refrigerator, just in case.

Some folks think we're chasing wild geese, just twiddling our electronic thumbs. Most of the world, to be candid, is probably oblivious. Project Phoenix is a small experiment, with a payroll of two dozen people. It's taking place in a part of Puerto Rico that few people care about. What happens here is far removed from the immediate tribulations of ordinary life. But if the signal comes in, this small effort will initiate a supremely profound reaction. For a million years, we have been like fish in a bowl, busy with our own lives. A SETI success would transport us to the ocean, opening us to the myriad possibilities of a vast and populated cosmos.

In 1974, the world's largest radio telescope was built at Arecibo in Puerto Rico. It was decided to send a radio transmission into space, containing a coded message about human beings, towards a globular star cluster called M13 in the constellation of Hercules. It would take the message around 74,000 years to arrive, so we shall not be around even if ETs from M13 send a reply.  (Hercules is a constellation close to 24,000 light years away, with approximately 300 suns in it.)

The picture was sent in binary code - that is in 0's and 1's. It was in the form of a grid, mostly containing white squares ( 0's ) but with the message in black squares (1's) . It contained a crude picture of a human being, with two legs and a head, the atomic numbers of the chemicals from which we are formed (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus) and a picture of the double helix of DNA.

On August 13, 2001, in a next to the observatory at Chilbolton, Hampshire, England, what seemed to be a reply was received in the form of 'tramples' marks in the crop. About five days later, there was another 'transmission'. The first formation was that of an alien face, in which the face was formed of 'pixels' in the manner of dots in a newspaper photograph, while the second formation was a 'reply' to the Arecibo binary message.

Dr. Frank Drank and astronomer Carl Sagan designed the original message with the prime numbers 23 and 27 to form a matrix of the 1679 units.

The crop formations found in the field were 145 by 165 feet, including the 'frame' around the alien face. The second formation was nearly 90 by 265 feet as measured by Charles R. Mallett.

From ground level, the formations look like chaos. They are only recognizable from the air. The crop was barely two feet fall, with tufts of crop making up the pixels. Some of the tufts were only a few stems wide - others much larger.  There are 412 grain-matrix dots - the biggest 3 yards in diameter.The pattern is set up in a diamond-fashion of 41 degrees. (Exactly 40.89 degrees)

Further examination of the face formation shows more sacred geometry - finally deciphering that the 'Seal of Solomon' of two interlocking triangles over the nose area. When a circle is drawn around the hexagram, it forms an exact tangent with the inner limit of the upper and lower frame sides and the outer  limit of the left and right sides of the frame. The width of the frame itself is also proof of the correct proportions, as it can only have the width it really has in the field, and none else embrace the embedded secrets. (per Jay  Goldner "Messages From Space)

Researchers tried to compare the alien face  to a human face and found the proportions off. They also tried comparing it to the face on Mars with the different results. Amazingly, the matrix is similar.  Does this mean that aliens are from Mars?

The secondary formation had some intriguing differences from the one we sent out in the radio transmission.  Their message added silicon to the list of basic elements necessary in the body, thus also changing the DNA structure. Carl Sagan estimated that our DNA structure has 4,294,441,822 base pairs. The return message in the crop formation showed that the ETs have 4,294,955,110 sequences. Another difference is that the ETs have a third strand in their DNA compared to our 2.  And their size was 1/2 of ours but that there were twice as many of them as of us humans.

In our radio   transmission - man is shown over the Earth symbol, in the crop formation, the home planet of the aliens was shown to be Mars. NASA denies that there is any life on Mars, but tells us that there is the right combination of chemicals on several of Jupiter's moons - water and silicon.  The major moons are IO, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

Links to articles about the Mega Glyph, Face,
and Arecibo
E.T. Message Crop Formations of 2001

Analysis and Comments on the
 13 August 2001 Milk Hill Crop Glyph
by Steven Clementson

 The Chilbolton 'Arecibo

 by Paul Vigay

Milk Hill 2001 - 409 Circles
Most For Any Crop Formation

The Chilbolton Code Analysis
Brian L. Crissey, Ph.D.

6 Fold Mega Glyph at Milk Hill
Paul Vigay

The Face of Things to Come -
 Cosmic Communications at Chilbolton

Sixth Sun in crop -
Mega Glyph at Milk Hill 2001

Facing The Code
by John Cowie

More Milk Hill "409" Alphanumerics
by Gary Val Tenuta

We Made Contact
Dustin D. Brand

Asteroid Flyby Sunday  NY40  Due to hit earth in 2060


Asteroid NY40, which was just discovered on July 14, will be flying near the Earth on Sunday, August 18 and will be close enough to see through binoculars. Unlike NT7, which is now due to hit us on 2060, there's no chance that this one will collide with Earth.

"Flybys like this happen every 50 years or so," says Don Yeomans of NASA. The last time this happened was August 31, 1925, but the asteroid wasn't discovered until 77 years later. At the time of the flyby, no one even knew it was happening.

A team of observers led by Mike Nolan at the Arecibo radar station in Puerto Rico will "ping" NY40 with radio waves as it approaches Earth. This will produce a 3D map of the asteroid. Some of the other images taken this way show asteroids that are binary systems, with one rock orbiting another, and an asteroid shaped like a dog bone.

This will help them figure out if NY40’s orbit is likely to change in the future, putting it on a collision course with Earth. "Radar data will also improve our knowledge of the asteroid's orbit," says NASA’s Jon Giorgini. "At present, we know there's little risk of a collision with 2002 NY40 for decades. When the Arecibo radar measurements are done, the orbit uncertainties should shrink by more than a factor of 200. We'll be able to extrapolate the asteroid's motion hundreds of years into the past and into the future, too."

As it gets closer to Earth, the asteroid will get brighter and brighter. It will still be dimmer than the stars we see, but as asteroids go, it will be very bright. "Asteroids are hard to see," says Yeomans, "because they're mostly black like charcoal. The most common ones--carbon-rich C-type asteroids--reflect only 3% to 5% of the light that hits them. Metallic asteroids, which are somewhat rare, reflect more: 10% to 15%.”

After it passes by us, it will fade quickly, because asteroids have phases, like the moon,. The sunlit side of NY40 is now facing the Earth, so it’s full, like a full moon. On August 18th, after it crosses the Earth’s orbit on its way toward the sun, its phase will change from full to half, then the night side will face us and it will seem to disappear.

"Don't forget, most asteroids pose no threat to Earth. But they do contain valuable metals, minerals and even water that we might tap in the future," says Yeomans. “[But] we need to know more about near-Earth asteroids in case we ever need to destroy or deflect one.”

Could we recover from an asteroid impact, or would we go the way of the dinosaurs? Learn how past civilizations have dealt with disaster from “Catastrophobia” by Barbara Hand Clow and “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Armageddon” by David Hatcher Childress.



Above: The elliptical orbit of asteroid Hermes (red) brings it to the inner solar system every 777 days

1980 wasn't the first time Hermes had sailed by unremarked. Hermes is a good-sized asteroid, easy to see, and a frequent visitor to Earth's neighborhood. Yet astronomers had gotten into the habit of missing it. How this came to be is a curious tale, which begins in Germany just before World War II:

On Oct. 28, 1937, astronomer Karl Reinmuth of Heidelberg noticed an odd streak of light in a picture he had just taken of the night sky. About as bright as a 9th magnitude star, it was an asteroid, close to Earth and moving fast--so fast that he named it Hermes, the herald of Olympian gods. On Oct. 30, 1937, Hermes glided past Earth only twice as far away as the Moon, racing across the sky at a rate of 5 degrees per hour. Nowadays only meteors and Earth-orbiting satellites move faster.

Plenty of asteroids were known in 1937, but most were plodding members of the asteroid belt far beyond Mars. Hermes was different. It visited the inner solar system. It crossed Earth's orbit. It proved that asteroids could come perilously close to our planet. And when they came, they came fast.

Reinmuth observed Hermes for five days. Then, to make a long story short, he lost it.

Hermes approaches Earth's orbit twice every 777 days. Usually our planet is far away when the orbit crossing happens, but in 1937, 1942, 1954, 1974 and 1986, Hermes came harrowingly close to Earth itself. We know about most of these encounters only because Lowell Observatory astronomer Brian Skiff re-discovered Hermes… on Oct. 15, 2003. Astronomers around the world have been tracking it carefully ever since. Orbit-specialists Steve Chesley and Paul Chodas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have used the new observations to trace Hermes' path backwards in time, and so they identified all the unnoticed flybys.

Above: This movie recorded by Lowell Observatory astronomer Brian Skiff shows Hermes moving among the stars in Oct. 2003. [more]

"It's a little unnerving," says Chodas. "Hermes has sailed by Earth so many times and we didn't even know it."

"Hermes' orbit is the most chaotic of all near-Earth asteroids," he adds. This is because the asteroid is so often tugged by Earth's gravity. Hermes has occasional close encounters with Venus, too. In 1954 the asteroid flew by both planets. "That was a real orbit scrambler," Chodas says. Frequent encounters with Earth and Venus make it hard to forecast Hermes' path much more than a century in advance. The good news is that "Hermes won't approach Earth any closer than about 0.02 AU within the next hundred years." We're safe for now.

Using the JPL ephemeris, we can look back and figure out what happened in 1937 when the asteroid was lost. With hindsight, it's understandable:

Reinmuth first spotted Hermes approaching Earth from the direction of the asteroid belt. At first it was easy to see because the asteroid's sunlit side was facing Earth. Speedy Hermes soon crossed Earth's orbit, however, and began turning its night side toward us. Asteroids are nearly as dark as charcoal, and their night sides are very dim. By Nov. 3rd, six days after its discovery, the asteroid had faded from 9th to 21st magnitude, a factor of 60,000. "Hermes was also heading into the sun's glare, which only made matters worse," notes Chodas. Hermes literally vanished.

No one seemed to care, not much. In 1937, World War II was about to begin in Europe, so people had a lot on their minds. Hermes failed to impress.

Says Chodas: "Astronomers of the day were somewhat biased, perhaps. They had convinced themselves that collisions were too rare to consider. Hermes didn't change their opinion because catastrophism was not in vogue."

It's in vogue now--largely because of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 (SL9), an object discovered by people hunting for Hermes. Found in 1993 by Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker and David Levy, SL9 hit Jupiter on July 14, 1994, with much of the world watching on CNN. Long before the collision, SL9 had been torn apart by Jupiter's powerful tides. The largest fragments, coincidentally about the same size as asteroid Hermes, exploded with such force when they struck that dark clouds formed in Jupiter's atmosphere as large as Earth itself.

The impact site of of one of comet SL9's fragments on Jupiter's cloud-tops. [more]

A message from Jupiter: Catastrophes happen.

"Gene always felt that Hermes should have done more to excite the world than it did at the time" recalls David Levy. "Indeed, he and his wife Carolyn were always hoping to find it." Shoemaker was a visionary who realized long before most others did that asteroids and comets posed an ongoing threat to Earth. In the late 1970's he and a few colleagues began to hunt for near-Earth objects using an 18-inch telescope at the Palomar Observatory. For a long while it was the only such survey on Earth. They discovered dozens of asteroids and comets, including SL9--but not Hermes. "When Hermes passed by Earth in 1986 (an encounter identified post-facto by Chodas) it should have been an easy target for us," notes Levy. "But the telescope was down for repairs." Shoemaker died in 1997 not knowing how close he came.

Now backyard astronomers around the world can do something Gene Shoemaker never did--see Hermes.

Hermes is fast approaching Earth, and on Nov. 4th it will pass by our planet 18 times farther away than the moon. Already the asteroid is about as bright as a 13th magnitude star--an easy target for 8-inch telescopes equipped with CCD cameras. Where should you point your 'scope? Consult the JPL Ephemeris for details.

Left: This double-peaked radar echo obtained at the Arecibo radio observatory in Puerto Rico reveals asteroid Hermes to be a binary. [more]


In recent days a group of NASA-supported astronomers led by Jean-Luc Margot of UCLA have pinged the asteroid with radar pulses from the giant Arecibo antenna in Puerto Rico. Hermes, it turns out, is a double asteroid--two space rocks orbiting one another, each about 400 meters across. No one knows how Hermes came to be this way. Margot and colleagues hope to learn more when the asteroid passes by on Nov. 4th as they continue their observations using both Arecibo and NASA's Goldstone radar.

Now that Hermes has our attention, it might teach us a few things after all.


New York, 6-22-2001

Harold, a newspaper reporter, writes:

When a "WOW" signal from Vega is detected by Dr. Arroway and her SETI team in the book and movie "Contact," Prime Numbers arise giving mathematical support to the reality of the communication.

Those Prime Numbers are 2-3-5-7-11 and up to 101.

Harold's note concerns the part of the movie/book where the SETI team, located at the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, discovered that a communication had been received by an intelligent source located in another star system. He laments that, based on ten years of strange happenings and research, contact has in reality been made, yet the world will not listen. It is as if he and the others who know about the contact are alone. UFO sightings are involved, such as the sighting over Coney (rabbit) Island, but the primary communication is in the form of symbolism and coincidental events.


A number of planets outside our solar system have recently been discovered.
Astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz of the Geneva Observatory discovered a planet orbiting the star 51 Pegasi, which is in the constellation Pegasus. This star is 42 light-years from the Earth. The discovery was announced in October 1995.
In addition, San Francisco State University astronomers Geoffrey Marcy and Paul Butler have discovered a planet orbiting the star 47 Ursae Majoris. This star is in the Big Dipper and is 34 light-years away from the Earth. The discovery was made on December 30, 1995.
Marcy and Butler have also discovered a planet orbiting the star 70 Virgins, which in the constellation Virgo. This star is also 34 light-years away from the Earth. Note that some astronomers consider that this new "planet" is really a brown dwarf star.
As new planets are discovered, astronomers will investigate the temperature and chemical composition of each. These parameters will help determine whether the new planets are capable of sustaining life. The various SETI projects can then choose whether to focus their radio telescopes on these new planets.

To be finished sometime in 2005, will be the Allen Telescope Array which can be used by SETI 24/7, scanning star systems for signals. Containing 350 small antennas, it will be spread out over 2/3 of a mile in Northern California, and free the organization from having to rely solely on waiting for their turn to use the Arecibo radio telescope.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft's former chief technology officer, together will donate $12.5 million to build a huge array of small radio dishes that will serve as a technological ear on the cosmos.

Artists representation of SETI's Allen Telescope Array

"For the first time in our history, we have the ability to pursue a scientifically and technologically sophisticated search for intelligent life beyond Earth at the same time we are doing traditional radio astronomy," Allen said in a statement.

Myhrvold added that there is "great uncertainty and some controversy" in the view held by some that intelligent life in the cosmos is widespread.

"One thing, however, is beyond dispute," he said in a statement. "That is, if we don't continue supporting projects like [this]… our chances of discovery will remain at zero."

Through the Paul G. Allen Charitable Foundation, Allen will provide $11.5 million. Myhrvold, now president of Intellectual Ventures, also located in Bellevue, Washington, will donate $1 million. The funds will be made available over a three-year period.

The money will allow the SETI Institute to begin construction of the Allen Telescope Array at the Hat Creek Observatory near Mt. Lassen, some 290 miles (467 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, California. The primary electronics laboratory that supports the array will be named for Myhrvold.

The remote locale is perfect for SETI since in the ET signal search business, silence is golden.

Thanks to the mountains and the desolate nature of the area, the SETI listening post won’t hear the entire buzz and clatter that flood the airwaves due to intelligent life here on Earth.

The University of California at Berkeley, which will jointly build and operate the cluster of radio dishes, operates the site.

Beyond advancing SETI work, radio astronomers can also use the super array to study interstellar chemistry, the structure of galactic magnetic fields or the physics of rotating neutron stars.

"This is going to be a world-class instrument," said Thomas Pierson, chief executive for the SETI Institute.

"It’s a very exciting time for SETI. This is the dawn of an era where SETI researchers and radio astronomers no longer have to compete for time on a telescope," Pierson told

In early 2003, enough dishes and electronic equipment will be in place to begin SETI and radio astronomy research, Pierson said. By 2005, the array will be in full operation.


The total estimated cost is $26 million.

"The bottom line is what this new telescope array will do for us," said Seth Shostak, an astronomer at the SETI Institute.

"For the past several years, we have been laboriously looking for signs of extraterrestrial civilizations, checking out a thousand nearby stars. With this new instrument, we can look at a hundred times that many. Maybe a thousand times that number," Shostak said.

The Allen Telescope Array will be constructed using hundreds of mass-produced smaller dishes, said Pierson. Individuals and organizations can join Allen and Myhrvold in the SETI project by naming individual telescope dishes for a contribution of $50,000, Pierson said.

For SETI, more collecting dishes means a more powerful and thorough search.

As example, the 27 dishes of the Very Large Array in Socorro, New Mexico, have about the same combined collecting area as a single 420-foot- (128-meter-) diameter dish.

The whopper of radio telescopes is the 1,000-foot- (305-meter-) diameter radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. But replicating that enormous dish would be far too expensive to attempt.

In April, engineers and astronomers from the SETI Institute and the University of California-Berkeley unveiled a small-scale version of the mega-multiple dish array. The test gear was set up at the Russell Reservation near Lafayette, California.

A seven-dish configuration was tagged the Rapid Prototype Array. It is a precursor to the larger, 107,640-square-foot (10,000-square-meter) collecting area first called the One Hectare Telescope, now renamed the Allen Telescope Array.

Shostak said that full-time SETI has always been dogged by large costs. That changes with the new array.

Both nonstop SETI and cutting-edge radio astronomy research is possible given the electronic prowess of the advanced array.