-{ a hewer of maps }-

Pale Blue Dot

Pale Blue Dot - small.jpg

This article came across my desk and inspired me to make a poster. Well, it inspired me to find a poster, but I didn't locate one that resonated just the right way with me, so I made my own.

A portion of the first ever 'portrait' of the solar system taken by Voyager 1 in 1990 from a distance of more than 4 billion miles from Earth. Our world is a mere point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixels in size, coincidentally right in the center of a scattered light ray, resulting from taking the image so close to the sun.

"We succeeded in taking that picture , and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every 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 in 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 the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. 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. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, 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 and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

-- Carl Sagan, "Reflections on a Mote of Dust"

Listen to Carl read this passage
Watch the speech set to music and imagery*
Purchase a hardcopy in a varity of sizes, paper & framing options
Download in editable svg format (350k)

Flattr this

Sources & Inspiration:

Creative Commons License

Pale Blue Dot by Matt Wilkie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License Based on a work at www.skyimagelab.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at maphew@gmail.com.

Time Traveller Drop Points » « Police make it hard to report