Earth: Just a Small Place We Call Home.

Via on May 15, 2010
Photo: NASA, taken from Voyager 1

The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken in 1990 by Voyager 1 from a record distance, showing it against the vastness of space. Seen from 6 billion kilometres (3.7 billion miles), Earth appears as a tiny dot (the blueish-white speck approximately halfway down the brown band to the right). By request of Carl Sagan, NASA commanded the Voyager 1 spacecraft, having completed its primary mission and now leaving the solar system, to turn its camera around and to take a photograph of Earth. It was subsequently used by Sagan as the title of his 1994 book: Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.

Take a look at this video I stumbled upon (narration from Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” audio-book)…

YouTube Preview Image

The words:

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of 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 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. ~Carl Sagan

Profound, right? I hope more people will be inspired to take care of this special little planet that sustains us. It’s really a pretty nice place to live. Well, in my opinion anyway. Cheers!

About Lynn Hasselberger

Lynn Hasselberger lives in Chicagoland with her son, husband and two cats. She loves sunrises, running, yoga, chocolate, and NYR, and has a voracious appetite for comedy. In her spare time, she blogs at myEARTH360.com and LynnHasselberger.com. A "Green Diva" and social media addict, you'll most likely find Lynn on twitter (@LynnHasselbrgr & @myEARTH360) and facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.

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12 Responses to “Earth: Just a Small Place We Call Home.”

  1. Spencer says:

    Amazing. Straight, amazing.

  2. This is terrific. I can use this immediately in my Gita Talk sessions, where we are just now coming to define God as “The Infinite, Unfathomable, Wondrous Life-Force of the Universe”. This photo and video help provide instant understanding. This is a large part of what the Bhagavad Gita is about.

    Bob Weisenberg

  3. Carl Watts says:

    Earth is extremely important. For here there is hope. There is life and we are winning despite some of ourselves.

    I don't think Earth is a small stage, I think it is major in terms of man conquering the physical universe. This is our starting point!

    He is fully correct that help will not arrive from else where. If they arrive, I'll be very worried. So we need to win at this game here and now!

  4. Glenn says:

    I have taught Earth Science for 25 years and we have software now that can transport students almost anywhere into the known universe. What I find is that once students have that experience, like astronauts, they are changed. Unfortunately for the rest of us who are caught up in our own egos, lifestyles and personal greed, the pale blue dot perspective easily fade from view. Perhaps it will take a disaster like the gulf oil catastrophe or something even bigger to wake people up momentarily, at least, with a significant emotional event, to SEE how critical the health of our spaceship Earth is to our own survival.

  5. Lynn,
    You are an amazing scholar and earth advocate.
    I look forward to reading mor of your articles.
    Jill Vanderwood

  6. Julie mullin says:

    It's wonderful to hear my thoughts and feelings spoken so eloquently and demonstrated so fully in a fuzzy picture. thanks!

  7. Lynn Hasselberger Lynn Hasselberger says:

    Thank you all for the positive feedback. I could stare at that photo for hours. You're right, Glenn, people get caught up in their own little 'worlds'. Thanks Jill. That's the first time anyone called me a scholar, much less an amazing one. Cheers!

  8. Lynn Kupczyk says:

    Thanks for sharing this Lynn, Earth is an amazing place. I am in awe of it's beauty on a daily basis and feel it is something that can never be taken for granted.

  9. Alison Hoffman says:

    Lynn,
    Thank you for this perspective–it's not something I think of often and I appreciate the message. I look forward to your future postings.
    Alison

  10. Stephanie says:

    Love the article and very insightful comments so far too – I must agree with Glenn in particular. It helps to take a "step back" and remember that we are all together on this amazing world we call Earth.

  11. [...] bigger questions as leaders require a shift in perspective. In the midst of my meltdown, I received this blog featuring Carl Sagan’s view of the Earth. To Sagan the Earth is no larger than a pale blue dot in a vast universe — a view inspired by [...]

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