Skip to content

The Story Of Epsilon Boötis

A science fiction and fiction of science double feature.

The first thing you need to know is that there is a star system called Epsilon Boötis; it is a real place, not just a Star Trek location.

The second thing is that Scottish author Duncan Lunan, with interests in astronomy, spaceflight, and science fiction, claimed to have succeeded in interpreting a ‘message’, found by two Norwegian physicists in the 1920s.

This message ran:

“Start here. Our home is Upsilon Boötis, which is a double star. We live on the sixth planet of seven from the sun, which is the larger of the two. Our sixth planet has one moon. Our fourth planet has three. Our first and third planets each have one. Our probe is in the position of Arcturus, known in our maps.” 

I am not in a position to prove/disprove or ridicule the validity of this message. At this point, though, it is science fiction by virtue of weirdness in much the same way we refer to any unidentifiable aerial objects as  UFOs because it is a convenient shorthand.

But then science fiction gets involved.

The plot thickens when a well-known and yet unproven theory is presented that the signal emanated not from the Epsilon Boötis star system but a mysterious satellite in our very own earth orbit.

The culprit is known as the Black Knight. Apparently, it has been orbiting the Earth for approximately 10,000 years and broadcasting the previously mentioned message at regular intervals.

So far, we have a blending of fiction and science to form science fiction. Now that is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does raise the question: how would we know if it was real, and by what measure?

What‘s interesting is how and why that possible extra-terrestrial contact became a conspiracy theory still very much active today on social media.  

I like a juicy conspiracy theory almost as much as a well-made science fiction film; I study both for different reasons. They certainly want to cohabitate in the human imagination. It must be all that gothic mystery influence or something in the water supply. 

But this is where I firmly put the science fiction goggles on and take a Vulcan perspective. There is a logic here, partially obscured to be sure. We know that the two Norwegian physicists back in the 1920s did record a signal. The truth then becomes embellished and commodified with conspiracy wagon jumping.

In this instance, science (which is a relative term) becomes scientific conjecture, then fictional, and finally science fiction.

Maybe that is where this story belongs; as a science fiction because that realm of world-building offers more possibilities than a weak story of conspiracy.

Shame, because if this was a contact from an extra-terrestrial civilisation…

Meanwhile, back at the mill, there is an exciting story (worthy of a film!) regarding Duncan Lunan’s journey of fame, ridicule, a public retraction of the original theory, and then revoking the retraction!

Maybe another time. Or space.

Ajjames:myscifi 2021

Some tomato sources