[Mulvaney's photo below emphasizes how small our home world is in the galaxy's environs. So tiny and fragile. WA]
Pale Blue DotFrom Discovery.com
April 22, 2009
It is one of the most powerful images I have ever seen. And yet, at first glance, it shows nothing.
But you see that narrow band of light on the right? Follow it a little more than halfway down, and you'll notice a tiny little dot. It isn't a smudge on the monitor. Go ahead, scratch it just to be sure. It isn't something on the camera lens. It isn't an insect, or a microbe, or a fleck of dust.
[WA: Look carefully. It is tiny and dim, hard to see.]
It's all of us.
Everyone, everything, that we know to have ever lived, has lived its life on that tiny speck.
That dot - that pale blue dot - is Earth, photographed in 1990 by Voyager 1, at a distance of more than 3.7 billion miles.
The idea of taking the image came from the late Carl Sagan, who suggested that the spacecraft turn around and photograph the place whence it came, on its way out of the solar system.
I first saw the picture several years ago, when I picked up a copy of Sagan's book Pale Blue Dot, which features the image as its frontispiece, and discusses its provenance and significance in the first chapter.
In that chapter, Sagan wrote:
"The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena ...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."
Words to remember, I think. And live by. And not just today. Every day. - Kieran Mulvaney
[Remember -- especially now as we, collectively, busily do our best to destroy it. Remember, and now do our best to try to save it. WA]
Labels: pale blue dot