This is an amazing and humbling view of our home – Planet Earth. Taken by Voyager I as it was leaving our solar system in 1990, some 4 billion miles from Earth, and more than 400 million miles beyond Pluto, the most distant planet in our solar system. Just a Pale Blue Dot is our majestic world seen from this perspective – The streak on the right with a dot in the middle, see it?

Photograph of planet Earth taken in 1990 by Voyager 1

In a commencement address for the public release of the photograph delivered May 11, 1996, Carl Sagan offered a personal deeper meaning to the photograph for all of us:

“Look again at that dot. That’s here, that’s home, that’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, 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.

Here is the full speech as read by Carl Sagan in his Cosmos Documentary series:

The Voyager journey of discovery continues. After traveling through space for more than 30 years, Voyager I was more than 10 billion miles from earth. It has left the termination shock (the boundary between our solar system and interstellar) and is now traveling towards the heliopause and true interstellar space. It is the most distant man made object in the universe. Maybe it will find god!

On the chance that someone is out there, NASA approved the placement of a phonograph record on the Voyager spacecraft. The recording, called Sounds of Earth‘ fits on a 12-inch, gold-plated copper disc containing greetings from Earth people in 60 languages, samples of music from different cultures and eras, and natural sounds of surf, wind and thunder, and birds, whales and other animals.

Gold-plated copper disc carried by Voyager I

The Golden Record also contains electronic information that an advanced technological civilization could convert into diagrams, pictures and printed words. The journey ahead for Voyager I may very well survive humanity. This “bottle in space” and its companion, Voyager II, which follows after its brother into the unknown, may someday be the only reminder that man ever existed at all.

Carl Sagan is more positive and has noted, “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet“.

There is a sense from where I sit now that the Earth is so large and that its entirety cannot be explored in a lifetime. But when viewed from such an immense distance the Earth seems so small and there is a reality that we live in a universe that is greater than the sum of all the experience of everyone that has ever lived. We are indeed a Pale Blue Dot in an ocean so immense that the imagination fails to fully grasp the significance of this journey we call life. Like Voyager, it is not about the destination, but the journey. This, my friends, is life! We live on a Pale Blue Dot, but to us it is everything.

Enjoy these images of our home from a great distance and reflect on the personal meaning they have for you. Where were you in 1990 when Voyager captured these images of our world from such a great distance beyond us? Who were you then and who are you now? This was my own personal reflection. I leave the image I posted here to speak for itself. Think about it and send a thought back from where you are now…

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