No subject in astronomy is more intriguing than the “pale blue dot” – the first solar system selfie.
The immortal image is Planet Earth on February 14, 1990, taken by the Voyager 1 space probe from a distance of about 6 billion kilometers. (Can you see yourself waving?)
Voyager 1 had completed its primary mission and as it left our solar system took one last photograph of Earth.
Of the 640,000 individual pixels that compose each frame, Earth takes up 0.12 pixels, according to NASA.
A Mote of Dust Suspended on a Sunbeam
Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.
On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you’ve heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.
The aggregate joy and suffering of
every young couple in love,
every mother and father,
every hopeful child, inventor and explorer,
every broken heart,
every “superstar,” and
every saint and sinner
in the history of our species lived, as Carl Sagan noted, “…on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
Sagan, a renowned cosmologist, astrophysicist, astronomer and astrobiologist, co-wrote and co-produced the widely popular TV series, “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” in 1980.
His voyage of discovery was awed by creation.
Sagan’s first trip to the library at age five was in search of a book to answer questions about stars. “…the answer was stunning. The scale of the universe suddenly opened up to me. It was a kind of religious experience. There was a magnificence to it, a grandeur, a scale which has never left me.”
The Science of IF
1. IF the earth had not been tilted exactly as it is, vapors from the oceans would move both north and south piling up vast continents of ice.
2. IF the moon were only 50,000 miles away from Earth instead of 250,000, the tides would be so enormous that all continents would be submerged in water. Even the mountains would be eroded.
3. IF the crust of the earth had been only 10 feet thicker there would be no oxygen and without it all animal life would die.
4. IF the oceans had been a few feet deeper, carbon dioxide and oxygen would have been absorbed and no vegetable life would exist.
The earth’s weight has been estimated at 6 sextillion tons, yet it is perfectly balanced. It rotates daily around an invisible axis held in place by unseen bands of gravitation at the rate of more than 1000 mph for 25,000 miles each day. This adds up to 9 million miles a year.
5. IF you were to hold out a dime arm’s-length while gazing at the night sky the coin would block out 15 million stars from your view.
This is science speaking, not the Bible.
What does the Bible have to say?
“God spoke” and everything came into existence. Genesis 1:3
Are your ears ringing?
“He poised the earth on nothingness.” Job 26:7
APPLICATION: Are you a stargazer? Please leave a comment below. Thank you.
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Great piece PBJ. Since the beginning we have stared up at night in wonder at what was out there. The scale of God’s creation is impossible to comprehend. So why did he bother making it so much bigger than we can process? I don’t think it was just for us.
I read the Pale Blue Dot many years back when I was yet a Lab Tech in the Sciences and still recall bits and bites of Carl’s book.
I am a stargazer. In childhood I had been a rock, stamp, coin collector and stargazer. One thing remains to this day, I am still a stargazer. The cosmic arena in it vastness captivates me. I travel with Hubbles and discover wonderous findings to watching NASA’s mini videos of, the Night Sky. Shooting stars add excitement to a night and tracing the constellations is the night sky is like reading a familiar childhood storybook. Of all things in the sky, the constellations pretty much remain the same all my years though into mid life with probability to remain even so after I pass on.
Not only am I a stargazer, but a sky watcher. I enjoy the Northern Lights dancing to a rhythm of its own. Laying on grass and looing up at clouds as a child, one could find many items with one’s imagination. If a passenger in a vehicle or on a family vacation taking a road trip even to this day, the skies keep me preoccupied. I enjoy the skies of many varied colored ever changing views morning and daytime to watching and sensing the feel of thunder storms. As a child I would press my nose and hands against the window pane to feel the electricity. Whenever I see a rainbow in the sky I think of God’s covenant made with mankind. Morning, day and night I am marveled by God in his creation of the morning and night sky and see him as the grandest artist of all. The skies never look the same twice ever, as like a snowflake it does not have a double.
Mankind’s habitat is amazingly created and the skies top it all !
Thanks, Ryan. Venus and Mars today.
Stars, snowflakes, storms and a rainbow. Each one spectacular in itself and fingerprints of our Creator. Glad to know you are a stargazer! Thank you for commenting.