The image above was the inspiration for Carl Sagan‘s 1994 book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. In the photograph, Earth’s is less than a pixel. This dot is lost in the vastness of space, highlighted a bit by a band of sunlight reflected by the camera.
Sagan wrote: “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… on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
Voyager 1 had completed its primary mission and was leaving the Solar System when Sagan requested that NASA turn its camera around and take one last photograph of Earth.
How do you feel when you look at the photo? I am humbled by the vastness of space in a smaller way than when I look up at the night sky on a clear night in a truly dark place and feel like the universe is an endless ocean.
Sagan believed that humans are not as important as they think they are.
In “Auguries of Innocence” by William Blake, he writes that “To see a World in a Grain of Sand,” and that is how the photo makes me feel. Very small, but not insignificant.
And I also agree with Blake in that you don’t have to look up. You can see “Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour.”
You can see these things, but most people do not see them.
In his book, Sagan begins by examining claims throughout history that Earth and the human species are unique. Later, he argues that in order to save the human race, space colonization and terraforming places such as the Moon and Mars needs to be done.
Carl Sagan’s wife, Ann Druyan, tells readers to pick one of the other planetary “dots” photographed that are in the book and imagine that there are inhabitants on that world who believe that the universe was created solely for themselves.