The Pale Blue Dot is, quite possibly, the most famous photo ever taken of the Earth. In 1990, Voyager 1 was hurtling past Saturn and traveling towards the vast expanse of interstellar space. The tiny spacecraft was some 3.7 billion miles from home. Before it left our little part of the cosmos, astronomer Carl Sagan requested that the spacecraft turn around and take a final photo of Earth. He didn’t want this image for research or scientific analysis. He wanted a reminder.
A reminder of our planet’s insignificance, of our own arrogant conceit, of the unique relationship that we share with this world…he wanted a reminder of what’s at stake.
The image that Voyager 1 captured inspired Sagan to write a passage in which he beautifully articulates everything that this photograph represents. Recently, Zen Pencils created a wonderful adaption of Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot" for their 100th comic. Follow this link to see the full comic, and this link to watch a video where Sagan himself is reading the quote. It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is…
FULL TEXT QUOTE:
"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 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. 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.
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.”
WATCH: Pale Blue Dot