jump to navigation

Pale Blue Dot July 15, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Mindfulness, Nature.
50 comments

In 1990, NASA captured this image of Earth from the Voyager 1 spacecraft as it wandered around the stars, 4 billion miles away.

In it, our planet is represented by 0.12 of a pixel:

Writing about this pale blue dot we call home, Carl Sagan asked us to reflect on the perspective that the image affords:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

From Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994).

Carl Sagan, a Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, played a leading role in the Mariner, Viking, and Voyager spacecraft expeditions.

He received the NASA medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, the Pulitzer Prize, and the highest awards of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation, for his contributions to science, literature, education, and the preservation of the environment.

His book Cosmos (accompanying his award-winning television series of the same name) was the bestselling science book ever published in the English language.

His bestselling novel, Contact, was turned into a major motion picture.

And Dr. Sagan, like each of us, is just one tiny facet of a pale blue dot in the whole of the Cosmos.

We are an infinitesimal part of it all.

Puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  WP Daily Prompt ~ Distance * Stelliferous ~ Jeff Rodgers Star Blog (South Florida Museum)