17Feb2015

Sagan remembered 25 Years On In A Mote Of Dust

It is a wonderful thing that words written many years ago can inspire people today. When Carl Sagan wrote his essay “Reflections on a Mote of Dust” (commonly called “Pale Blue Dot”), he must have known how special it was.

His words were inspired by a picture taken from a spacecraft 6 billion kilometres away, a probe commanded to turn around and look at our solar system from this great distance.

It was so terribly remote at the time that our entire planet appears as a simple pale blue dot, a single pixel of colour in a vast patch of darkness. Sagan has inspired artists in other ways too, of course. An animation was recently brought to my attention that uses Sagan’s own voice to breathe new life into this phenomenal tract:

Pale Blue Dot – Animation from Ehdubya on Vimeo.

If you love space, if you crave to understand the Universe around you, take heed of Sagan’s words. Go out and make it known, because it is one of the best things we humans can do.  Source: Bad Astronomy

This narrow-angle colour image of the Earth, dubbed ‘Pale Blue Dot’, is a part of the first ever ‘portrait’ of the solar system taken by Voyager 1. The spacecraft acquired a total of 60 frames for a mosaic of the solar system from a distance of more than 4 billion miles from Earth and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic.

Earth, as seen from 6 billion kilometers away by Voyager 1.

The ‘Pale Blue Dot image

From Voyager’s great distance Earth is a mere point of light, less than the size of a picture element even in the narrow-angle camera. Earth was a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. Coincidentally, Earth lies right in the center of one of the scattered light rays resulting from taking the image so close to the sun.

This blown-up image of the Earth was taken through three color filters — violet, blue and green — and recombined to produce the color image. The background features in the image are artifacts resulting from the magnification. Sagan’s words have inspired countless people, including artists. One person, at the art studio ORDER, created this lovely short video animating Sagan’s words: Extracted: Bad Astronomy

 

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