Saturday, February 02, 2008

And a star to guide me by

NASA will commemorate its 50th anniversary, and the 40th anniversary of the recording of the Beatle's song Across the Universe, by beaming the song into space using the radio telescopes of the Deep Space Network. As Phil Platt at the Bad Astronomy blog points out, there are better candidate stars to send the song to, if our intention is for some alien life to eventually intercept the signal. Polaris, an old star and part of a binary pair, almost certainly has no planets, and if it does they are unlikely to harbor life.

My personal pick would be Epsilon Eridani or 55 Cancri - both are known to harbor planets and are very close in astronomical terms - but there is something apt about sending the signal to Polaris, the Northern Star. Think George Harrison's It's Only a Northern Song, or the Beatle's publishing company, Northern Songs Ltd.

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