We Are Here: The Pale Blue Dot

This all revolves around a photograph taken by a small spacecraft a little over 20 years ago.  Carl Sagan thought for a while it’d be a good idea to have the spacecraft turn around and snap a photo of the Earth.  Fearing damage to the spacecraft the controllers were reluctant.  It was February 14, 1990 and Voyager I had completed all of its primary mission objectives.  Now was the time to have Voyager turn around and snap a photo.  If they had waited much longer the Earth would be too distant to even register.

So here we are.  We are given this photo.

The Pale Blue Dot
The Pale Blue Dot. As taken by Voyager I some 4 billion miles from Earth. February 14, 1990.

It sure doesn’t look like much.  To us, it is everything.  Now, I could go on about this and that regarding the photo.  The thing is, it’s already been done.  In fact, so well done, that to redo or try and out do it would be folly.  Now to read what is said about the photograph is one thing but hearing the voice of Carl Sagan means a little more.  It was his idea, so his words and voice are fitting.

The original audio was from an audio-book I do believe.  Some crafty people have done things with it in videos.  This one is probably the best I’ve found.  It really is moving. (Yes, yes, I posted this video on Facebook a while back, I know.)  So have a look now.

We are here: The Pale Blue Dot

Here is the text:

Consider again, 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.

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say;  That one is worth everything we’ve ever known.