The Blue Marble vs the Pale Blue Dot
I heard an old interview not long ago with Carl Sagan. The interview was on the 20th anniversary of the most distant photo we have taken of the earth from space. Carl Sagan dubbed it “The Pale Blue Dot”. It is a photograph of the planet earth taken in 1990 by Voyager 1 from a record distance, showing it against the vastness of space. 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 one last photograph of Earth across the enormity of space. This interview touched me and inspired me to search around the Internet and look at some amazing photos of space. Our first glimpse of ourselves from space was in 1946. A grainy black and white photo sent back from a camera riding on the back of a V-2 missile. It wasn’t until the late 1960 that we saw the now iconic images of ourselves on “The Blue Marble” (this image was taken in 2001 by NASA’s Terra satellite).
This notion of us in the universe, riding along on this big and blue and beautiful planet looms large in our psyches (in mine at least). And while the “Pale Blue Dot” photo was taken 20 years ago, it isn’t an image that I’ve mounted in my internal photo album, it is not the vison I have of our place in the universe. That big “Blue Marble” is much more comforting, substantial, significant. Can that be us on the distant pale blue dot? Think about it we’ll check in on Friday.