A Pale Blue Dot.

Cosmos neil degrasse tyson

Have you watched the 13-part documentary narrated by Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson?  It premiered on FOX last year, and B was completely obsessed.  Now you can watch all 13 episodes on Netflix, which I'm sure B has also done.  Back in November, I was brainstorming unique Christmas gifts for him, and saw that Neil deGrasse Tyson was going "on tour" and would be speaking in DC, so I got us tickets, and we attended recently.   We weren't sure what to expect, but I really. really. enjoyed it.  His theme was about the utter importance of science, math, and solar exploration in society. He was actually also really funny, and only received minor heckling for his role in down grading Pluto's status as a planet. 

There was a particular part of the presentation that I thought was really beautiful, and interesting, and amazing.  Neil deGrasse Tyson shared an excerpt from,  A Pale Blue Dot, written by Carl Sagan.  Afterwards, when he was taking questions from the crowd, one of the audience members shared that the "A Pale Blue Dot" was read at their wedding, so I thought I would share it with you.

The Planetary Society wrote, "This excerpt from Sagan's book Pale Blue Dot was inspired by an image taken, at Sagan's suggestion, by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990. As the spacecraft left our planetary neighborhood for the fringes of the solar system, engineers turned it around for one last look at its home planet. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, and approximately 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane, when it captured this portrait of our world: "

Can you see it?  SO TINY.

Here's a more recent image that Neil deGrasse Tyson shared: 

Neil deGrasse Tyson Pale Blue Dot

Pale Blue Dot.

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.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
— -- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Carl Sagan for Kids

B is a pretty adorable uncle and bought all of these books for our nephew (See link for Carl's below). There is a really cool exhibit in DC about Carl Sagan at the National Air and Space Museum that would make for a great connection after reading this book with your little one.

Also, if you find yourself at the National Air and Space Museum. You must go to the Einstein Planetarium.  B and I recently saw, "Dark Matter" (narrated by Neil Degrasse Tyson, obviously).  If Carl Sagan's "A Blue Dot" entry did not make you feel sufficiently tiny, Dark Matter, surely will.

 

 

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