At this location in 1931, Karl Jansky, a Bell Laboratories physicist and radio researcher, recorded for the first time radio signals from beyond the Earth. The source of these signals—radio noise at a wavelength of 14.6 meters—was the center of our Milky Way Galaxy.
This sculpture commemorates Jansky's discovery, first announced in 1933, which gave birth to the science of radio astronomy. The sculpture is oriented as Jansky's antenna was at 7:10 p.m. on September 16, 1932, at a moment of maximum signal. As his directional antenna rotated, the center of our galaxy came into view in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius, low on the southern horizon.
Radio Astronomy pioneer Karl Jansky died in 1950, years before the scientific community realized the significance of his discovery. In 1973, the International Astronomical Union gave his name to the international unit of radio flux density. Jansky's work led to a number of breakthroughs in astronomy: the discovery of quasars, pulsars, radio galaxies, and, near this site in 1964, the Nobel Prize-winning discovery by Bell Laboratories scientists of the cosmic microwave background which has revolutionized our understanding of the origin of the universe.