Our pale little blue dot


This is a photograph of Earth. Yes. If you look very carefully and closely, you will see it. Just below the center of the picture, on the right side, bathed in sunbeam. Yes, it’s that speck of dust.

“We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every 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 in 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 the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. 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. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, 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 and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

This photo was taken by Voyager 1 in 1990 as it was returning from a space mission. The photo itself would not have been remarkable without the inspiring quote from Carl Sagan (an astronomer), that reminds us of how small we are, even though some times we think that we are the center of the universe, or even, the universe.

[via Big Sky Astronomy Club]

[For other interesting tidbits, check out the rest of the posts on this blog.

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One Response to Our pale little blue dot

  1. Greg McMahan says:

    “Returning from a space mission”? That will never happen, Voyager 1 is on a one-way trip to interstellar space.

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