Pale Blue Dot

“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.” Carl Sagan

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Watching the short three and a half minute video above with astronomer Carl Sagan’s narration has to be a humbling experience for anyone. The term “pale blue dot” was the title of the 1994 book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, a sequel to Sagan’s 1980 book Cosmos and was inspired by the famous 1990 Pale Blue Dot photograph taken by Voyager I at 3.7 billion miles from earth. The photograph appears at the end of the above video.

Carl Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, author and science communicator. His best known scientific contribution is research on extraterrestrial life. Sagan assembled the first physical messages sent into space, the Pioneer Plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, universal messages that could potentially be understood by any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find them.

Pale Blue Dot Photograph (1990)
Earth is a bright pixel when photographed from Voyager 1 from 3.7 billion miles away. Sagan encouraged NASA to generate this image.

Initially an assistant professor at Harvard, Sagan later moved to Cornel where he would spend the majority of his career. Sagan published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books.He wrote many popular science books and narrated and co-wrote the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. The most widely watched series in the history of American pubic television, Cosmos has been seen by at least 500 million people in 60 countries. The book Cosmos was published to accompany the series. He also wrote the 1985 science fiction novel Contact, the basis for a 1997 film of the same name. His papers, containing 595,000 items are archived at The Library of Congress.

Sagan advocated scientific skeptical inquiry and the scientific method, pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). He spent most of his career as a professor of astronomy at Cornell University, where he directed the Laboratory for Planetary Studies. Sagan and his works received numerous awards and honors, including the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal, the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book The Dragons of Eden. For his Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, he received two Emmy Awards, the Peabody Award and the Hugo Award.

Quotes from Carl Sagan.

Carl Sagan 1980

One thought on “Pale Blue Dot

  1. Carl put things in perspective!! Thank you for sharing this. I agree with him, we should be better to others and remember we are just a tiny spot in the universe!! Barbara

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