34 years ago: The Pale Blue Dot

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prfesser

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One of the best-known photos from Voyager 1, taken on 14 February 1990 (it took until 1 May to get all the image data). Good call by Carl Sagan! The sum total of humanity is...a bit difficult to see. Which was the whole point of the image.

Higher resolution images are available here. Not really necessary though. Crank the resolution as high as you like; we and everything else on this planet are still...a pale blue dot.

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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.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

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.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
 
The pale blue dot is my wall paper (for real). And Carl’s description still brings me to tears. …everyone & everything a mote in a sunbeam…
 
I’ll be honest, I don’t care for it. It could be anything, I prefer earth rise to it because it’s the same idea but I think it strikes home harder because it’s the earth not a bit of dust.

Ps (i know that’s sort of the point but, I don’t like that you have to look at the description to understand)
 
I get you for the picture alone. The picture with text is another story where, as you say, that's the point. A picture from half that distance, so the blue dot is twice that size in the frame, might have been better. But I don't like Earthrise as well for the purpose because that land masses are so clearly visible. (EDIT: No, I take it back. I looked again, and the land masses aren't really visible. But I still like Pale Blue Dot better to go with the text.) But at least the borders are not. (EDIT: I guess I was thinking of Blue Marble.)

 
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I get you for the picture alone. The picture with text is another story where, as you say, that's the point. A picture from half that distance, so the blue dot is twice that size in the frame, might have been better. But I don't like Earthrise as well for the purpose because that land masses are so clearly visible. (EDIT: No, I take it back. I looked again, and the land masses aren't really visible. But I still like Pale Blue Dot better to go with the text.) But at least the borders are not. (EDIT: I guess I was thinking of Blue Marble.)


What’s the problem with land?
 
This is one of my favorite images.
What makes is so incredible is Carl S's profound quote about it.
I have my two fav images on the wall in my office.
The Pale Blue Dot.
The Hubble Deep Field.

Thank you for reminding me, lol.

Teddy
 
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