• John Gotts

Pale Blue Dot Suspended in a Sunbeam

How tiny we all are. How short our lives are. How lucky we are for the time we have.

Often when we we look into the sky we forget how small and fragile we are and what a short trip through time we get to enjoy on spaceship earth. In fact, one of the most amazing photos to demonstrate this is a photo from the Voyager Spacecraft, which was turned around just as it was leaving our solar system. Earth is a speck of dust barely visible.

This photo was referred to as the "pale blue dot, suspended in a sunbeam."

Pale Blue Dot was taken with the narrow-angle camera of the Voyager spacecraft and was also published as part of a composite picture created from a wide-angle camera photograph showing the Sun and the region of space containing the Earth and Venus. The wide-angle image was inset with two narrow-angle pictures: Pale Blue Dot and a similar photograph of Venus. The wide-angle photograph was taken with the darkest filter (a methane absorption band) and the shortest possible exposure (5 milliseconds), to avoid saturating the camera's vidicon tube with scattered sunlight. Even so, the result was a bright burned-out image with multiple reflections from the optics in the camera and the Sun that appears far larger than the actual dimension of the solar disk. The rays around the Sun are a diffraction pattern of the calibration lamp which is mounted in front of the wide-angle lens.

When we consider how tiny we are in the size of the universe and how short our lives are compared to the age of the universe, it is important to appreciate each moment.

John Wright Gotts,

John Wright Gotts
  • Black LinkedIn Icon
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black Blogger Icon

© 2005-2019 by John Gotts - All Rights Reserved.