optical SETI at Berkeley

Two optical SETI programs are currently in progress at the University of California, Berkeley, both supported by funds from the SETI Institute and the Planetary Society. The first is a search, directed by Geoffrey Marcy, for laser signals that are on continuously or at least a significant fraction of the time. It involves looking for ultra narrow-band visible signals in the radiation from 1,000 nearby Sun-like stars. Much of the data has already been obtained by Marcy and Paul Butler and their colleagues as a result of the San Francisco State University Planet Search and its southern hemisphere counterpart, the Anglo-Australian Telescope Planet Search. Further data will come from observations at the Lick Observatory, Keck Observatory, and Anglo-Australian Observatory.


The second search involves observing 2,500 objects for pulsed laser signals that might last only a billionth of a second or so. On the target list are nearby F, G, and K stars, some M stars, and a few globular clusters and external galaxies. Directed by Daniel Wertheimer, this project uses a 76-centimeter (30-inch) automated telescope at the Leuschner Observatory equipped with an instrument built for optical SETI in 1997.