Today, Carl Sagan would have been 77 years old. He was not only a gifted astronomer, he was someone who was a great science communicator. His PBS series Cosmos was one of the most popular series PBS has ever had, and it gave millions of us a chance to see the wonder and excitement of science. Here’s one of the great moments from that series, The Pale Blue Dot.
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. 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.
Since that time, another probe to Saturn, Cassini, has expanded our knowledge – and yes, taken pictures of “the pale blue dot.”
Here, a wide view. The little dot on the left, just above the main rings
And a close-up view.
(Both photos credit: Cassini Imagining Team; SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA)
We are a species that explores. It’s caused us to move across this planet, to go from the highest mountains to the depths of the oceans. We wonder what’s “over there,” what’s beyond the horizon. We’ve walked on the Moon. It’s caused us to discover many things, and continually learn that we have so much more to discover. Every now and then, we take a look back, and discover something else. That’s us, just a pale blue dot floating in the sea of night. Thank you Carl, for showing us that.