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From the dark side of the Moon

On Christmas of the year 1968, three men for the first time witnessed the Earth rising in the sky from behind the surface of the moon. The astronauts were so far away that they could eclipse our entire planet using just one finger.

This year, in 2018, NASA celebrates its 60th birthday. NASA was founded in Houston in 1958, and ten years later, in 1968, John Lennon composed the song Across the Universe. No One's Gonna Change Our World was the name of the vinyl LP released in 1969, a compilation by various songwriters that promoted an activist conscience and respect for Nature. Profits from sales of the LP were used to raise funds for the World Wildlife Fund, a conservation organization.

On February 5, 2008, on the occasion of NASA’s 50th anniversary and the 40th anniversary of the legendary song, Across the Universe was launched as an encoded signal toward Polaris, a star some 431 light-years from Earth. Unable to predict his own destiny, John Lennon was certainly never able to imagine that his song would be reborn, taking flight “across the universe” toward eternity from a set of beacon-like radiotelescopes in Madrid, Spain on Almenara mount.

The radiotelescopes I present in this painting form part of one of the most cutting-edge networks of observatories in existence today for exploring the firmament. Their name, ALMA, comes from Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. Located in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile at an altitude of 5,000 meters, under our planet’s clearest skies, with fewer atmospheric disturbances than anywhere else, these radiotelescopes make it possible to see the Milky Way in all its splendor.

And since time immemorial, that sky and those stars have been observed from those same latitudes. ALMA is situated in the valley of Chajnantor, which in the Kunza language of the Likan Antai people means “lift-off place.” The people of Atacama still preserve in their memories the desert routes used for herding alpacas and llamas. From those ancient cultures, we still have numerous testimonies in the form of cave paintings, petroglyphs and geoglyphs, burials and mummies more ancient than those of the first pharaohs.