Beatles beamed across the universe

Nasa space scientists will turn DJ on Monday to beam a classic Beatles song into space to any listening aliens. They will broadcast Across The Universe literally across the universe using a giant radio dish at Goldstone, California.

Goldstone radio dishThe stunt, using Nasa’s Deep Space Network, is to mark the space agency’s 50th anniversary and exactly 40 years since the song was recorded.

Across The Universe will be beamed towards the North Star, Polaris, in the constellation of the Little Bear. Radio waves travel at the speed of light – 186,000 miles per second. But the Beatles number won’t reach the star, which lies 431 light years away from Earth, until the year 2439.

Sir Paul McCartney was thrilled to hear that the song, mainly written by fellow Beatle John Lennon, was being beamed to the cosmos.

He said in a message: “Amazing! Well done, Nasa! Send my love to the aliens. All the best, Paul.”

Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, called the broadcast a significant event. She said: “I see that this is the beginning of the new age in which we will communicate with billions of planets across the universe.”

Nasa has used Beatles music before. In November 2005, McCartney performed the song Good Day Sunshine in a concert that was transmitted to the International Space Station.

Here Comes the Sun, Ticket to Ride and A Hard Day’s Night are among other Beatles’ songs that have been played to wake astronaut crews in orbit.

Beatles fans have declared Monday, February 4, Across The Universe Day. They are inviting everyone to participate by playing the song at the same time it is transmitted by Nasa. This actually happens at midnight on Monday night/Tuesday morning, UK time.

Two other anniversaries also are being honoured by the broadcast. One is the launch, 50 years ago this week of America’s first satellite Explorer 1, and the other the founding, 45 years ago, of the Deep Space Network, an international network of antennas that supports space missions.

Deep Space Network execuive Dr Barry Geldzahler said in Washington: “I’ve been a Beatles fan for 45 years – as long as the Deep Space Network has been around.”

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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