The Voyager Golden Records are phonograph records which were included aboard both Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977. The Voyager spacecrafts are not heading towards any particular star, but Voyager 1 will be within 1.6 light years of the star AC+79 3888 in the Ophiuchus constellation in about 40,000 years.
The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Sagan and his associates assembled 116 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, thunder and animals (including the songs of birds and whales). To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, spoken greetings in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Jimmy Carter and U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim.
The collection of images includes many photographs and diagrams both in black and white and color. The first images are of scientific interest, showing mathematical and physical quantities, the solar system and its planets, DNA, and human anatomy and reproduction. Care was taken to include not only pictures of humanity, but also some of animals, insects, plants and landscapes. Images of humanity depict a broad range of cultures. These images show food, architecture, and humans in portraits as well as going about their day to day lives. Many pictures are annotated with one or more indications of scales of time, size, or mass. Some images contain indications of chemical composition. All measures used on the pictures are defined in the first few images using physical references that are likely to be consistent anywhere in the universe.
Before my extreme tardiness in returning Wild put my Interlibrary Loan privileges on hold, I got my hands on the apparent coffee table type book, I think also called Sounds of Earth, that chronicles the creation of this record. Apparently it was thrown together in, like, three weeks. And was amazing. As much for us as them (probably more).