Voyager 1 anniversary: A Bulgarian tune in interstellar space

Written by on August 2, 2017 in World - Comments Off on Voyager 1 anniversary: A Bulgarian tune in interstellar space

Forty years ago, on September 5, 1977, Voyager 1 was launched. One day, this probe might prove to be the most important one ever sent to space. Besides, there is a Bulgarian aspect to the Voyager 1 mission.

When the probe was launched, the Cold Ware was at its peak. The Iron Curtain kept people in and out at the same time. Deterrence was not just a big word, but a big fact too. Jimmy Carter was President of the United States of America, Elvis Presley died just days before Voyager 1 was launched, and Leonid Brezhnev was the new General Secretary of the Central Committee (CC) of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).

In Bulgaria, dictator Todor Zhivkov headed the communist regime, which was in bondage to the Soviet Union, spied out its own citizens and put them into concentration camps, if they were opposed to the leadership. In the Bulgaria of 1977, some were more equal than many others.

Fleetwood Mac’s “Go You Own Way” was a big hit, when Voyager 1 was launched. So was Baccara’s “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie”, even though they couldn’t. But NASA did boogie, big time, since the space race had been decided eight years earlier, when Apollo 11 landed on a sphere made out of Swiss cheese, some 380,000 kilometers from Earth.

Valya Balkanska, back then, in the 1970-s.

Voyager 1 had a big mission. And it still does. The space probe flew by Jupiter, Saturn and Titan. It delivered countless stunning images. It studied magnetic fields, planet rings and the weather up there.

But there is a lot more: Five years ago, Voyager 1 was the first spacecraft ever to enter interstellar space. At this stage, the probe is located 139 Astronomical Units (AU) from the sun. Therefore, it is the farthest man-made object. And it contains a message for aliens.

While Voyager’s main mission is to provide data, which it still does now and then, it includes the Golden Record. The latter is that famous disc, which includes photos, graphs with scientific information about Earth, sounds recorded on Earth, spoken greetings and music.

Once and if the disc gets picked up by aliens, they will be able to enjoy the usual Bach, Beethoven and Mozart compositions, but also Mexican Mariachi music, Chuck Berry, Aborigine songs and Valya Balkanska. The Bulgarian star contributed the song “Излел Е Дельо Хайдутин”. It was sent to space, on that disc, when she was 35 years old. Today, the singer from the Rhodope Mountains is 75.

A recent shot of Valya Balkanska.

The beautiful song sung by Valya Balkanska (listen to Youtube video below) might actually sound somewhat like a Science Fiction tune to people not familiar with the Bulgarian or “Balkanese” culture. On Youtube, a user who calls himself “monkeyside” commented on it by writing this: “I surely hope that aliens can’t die of chills.” Other commentators said, they were proud of being Bulgarian and liked the song a lot.

So, which of all the compositions and songs included will likely be the number 1 hit in the alien world we do not know about yet? Probably the one by Valya Balkanska.

By the way: Voyager 2, another space probe which was launched 40 years ago as well, on August 20th, is carrying the same golden disc, with the same content. This pretty much doubles the chances for aliens finding a copy.

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus, the founder of foreignersandfriends.com, is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe.