A Look at Our Place in the Universe

Happy Valentine's Day -- here's a break from all the typical V-Day postings.


On this date in 1990, the space probe Voyager 1 captured an iconic image of planet Earth as it traveled into interstellar space. The photo was taken at a distance of more than 4 billion miles, and Earth appears as a bright tiny speck in a beam of sunlight.


Carl Sagan, an astronomer and member of the imaging team, suggested pointing the camera back toward Earth for a final shot before Voyager 1 made its way out of the solar system. The photo is part of a "family portrait" series containing the Sun and all the planets in the solar system. For the first time in 176 years, the planets were perfectly aligned to allow a spacecraft to pass by each body within 12 years.



The photo was taken just after Voyager passed Saturn. Sagan coined the name "Pale Blue Dot" in his 1994 book of the same title, in which he questions Earth's significance in a "vast cosmic arena."


So, this is us! Here's another, closeup image of our home. Hug your loved ones today.



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