One of the first things that I do every morning, is write in my journal. At the top of each page of The 5 Minute Journal there is usually a motivational quote or some words of wisdom. This morning it simply read: YouTube Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot, watch and share. I filled in my goals for the day, and as I had never heard of this video, I opened YouTube and searched for “Pale Blue Dot” If you have never seen this short video, I have put it below. I have also put a transcript of the video below.
The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a distance of about (6 billion kilometers or 3.7 billion miles). In this famous photograph, the Earth’s apparent size is less than one 10th of a pixel; Our planet appears as a tiny pale blue dot against the vastness of space.
Voyager 1 carries a copy of a Golden Record — a message from humanity to the cosmos that includes greetings in 55 languages, photos of people, sounds, places on Earth and music ranging from Mozart to Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.”
Voyager 1, which had completed its primary mission and was leaving the Solar System, was commanded by NASA at the request by astronomer Carl Sagan to take one last photograph of Earth. The phrase “Pale Blue Dot” was coined by Sagan himself in his reflections on the photograph’s significance that was documented in his book: Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.
Pale Blue Dot: Carl Sagan
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest, but for us, it’s different. 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 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 the mode 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 they’re 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.
Copyright © 1994 by Carl Sagan, Copyright © 2006 by Democritus Properties, LLC. All rights reserved including the rights of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.