Beatles heading "Across the Universe"

February 4, 2008 8:03:49 AM PST
Oh, the places you will go.NASA will aim a giant antenna in Spain at Polaris, also known as the North Star, and send a Beatles song to the far-away ball of fire.

Even though the broadcast will be at the speed of light, the audio will take 431 years to reach Polaris. Will anyone be listening by then?

Polaris is 2.5 quadrillion miles away from Earth. In number terms, that is 2,500,000,000,000,000 miles.

The event celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Beatles song, recorded at Abbey Road studios on February 4th, 1968. It is also the 45th anniversary of NASA's Deep Space Network, which communicates with distant probes.

Paul McCartney told NASA to "send my love to the aliens."

Polaris is in the constellation Ursa Minor, or the Little Bear. It is called the North Star because of its proximity to the point in the sky that the Earth turns around. That has always made it an excellent navigating tool at night.

One day Polaris will not be the pole star anymore, due to the precession of the equinoxes. Perhaps the Beatles song will have arrived by then.