Houston Matters

Radio Astronomy: Why ‘Listening’ to the Stars Matters

In the 1997 film Contact, Jodie Foster plays astronomer Dr. Ellie Arroway. She’s devoted her life to searching for proof of life on other planets. In a key scene, she’s lying on the windshield of her car, headphones on, listening to a distant star system the satellite farm behind her is pointed to. As the […]

In the 1997 film Contact, Jodie Foster plays astronomer Dr. Ellie Arroway. She’s devoted her life to searching for proof of life on other planets. In a key scene, she’s lying on the windshield of her car, headphones on, listening to a distant star system the satellite farm behind her is pointed to. As the satellites reposition, suddenly, she hears something. An unmistakable signal. Contact has been made.

You see, celestial objects emit radio waves. We can actually listen to the stars. It’s a discipline known as radio astronomy, and Texas Southern University’s starting a radio astronomy program. To run it, they’ve brought in astrophysicist Dr. Victor Migenes.

He tells Houston Matters’ Michael Hagerty how he got interested in listening to outer space.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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