The ark that carries every living thing


Thirty years ago, Carl Sagan, one of the lead planetary scientists on the Voyager mission to the outer Solar System, convinced NASA to take one final series of photographs with the spacecraft’s cameras before they shut them down to conserve power, as Voyager flew out into the empty abyss of space.

NASA released a montage of the photos 30 years ago this past weekend.

One shot from the fan of photographs has become one of the most famous NASA pictures ever, second or third only to “Earth Rise,” which the Apollo 8 astronauts snapped on Christmas Eve, 1968, and the photo of Ed Aldrin’s boot print in the dusty surface of the Moon, taken by Aldrin, himself on July 20, 1969.

The third photograph, the one made by Voyager, became known as, “The Pale Blue Dot,” from a phrase Astronomer Sagan used to describe it in the television series, “Cosmos,” in the early 1990s.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of that unique snapshot of our planet, NASA has released a re-mastered version of the image, created with current, high quality photo-processing software.

Like the original, it depicts our home planet from 4 billion miles away (about the distance of Pluto) as a “pale blue dot,” against the vast and empty void of surrounding space.

Earth lies in the midst of a gently glowing trace of pinkish sunlight, reflected off of trillions and trillions of tiny grains of dust left in the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun.

In the picture, we see contained in a tiny, featureless pinprick of bluish light, the ark that carries with it virtually every living thing that we know for certain to exist in all the vast expanse of the universe.

You, and me, and everyone and everything we have ever known, loved, or experienced.

It’s all there, on one pale, blue dot.

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DAS is a club for Amateur Astronomers and those interested in space science. We created Escanaba’s unique “Planet Walk,” a walking tour of the Solar System on Ludington Street in Downtown Escanaba, and we own one of the largest and finest telescopes in the Upper Peninsula which we utilize to bring the wonders of the night skies to the public. It was built in 2004 by club member, John Burroughs.

DAS meetings are open to the public, 7 p.m. the last Tuesday of the month, Room 961 Bay College, Escanaba. Contact us at: dyoung@chartermi.net or Call John at: 906-789-1414, or Visit our Page on Facebook. We are a registered non-profit, raising all funds from donations and members’ dues.

Dan Young,

Delta Astronomical Society



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