Just a Pale Blue Dot

30 Oct

My husband came in from his early-morning constitutional and asked, “Do you have a moment?” He wanted to show me the planets in the sky before the sun came up.

Pulling a hat over my still-wet hair, I went out to the backyard and saw three spots of light; one very bright, one less so, and the dimmest with a reddish tint. Three planets.

If there’s a clear morning where you live in the next week, get out and see this convergence. (Apparently, Mercury is visible down near the horizon, but there were too many houses in the way for us).

The three planets in the sky. From Earthsky.org. October 2015 Guide to the Five Visible Planets. http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/visible-planets-tonight-mars-jupiter-venus-saturn-mercury

Jupiter is 628,743,036 km away from Earth. I couldn’t flip my mind to see it as very far away, instead of very small. It was probably a quality of the light and the way our eyes work, but I could get philosophical, too, and say that it’s difficult to not see everything as close up. About us. It’s not a gas giant ten times the size of Earth, it’s a pinprick of light a few miles up.

It’s so easy to forget that we’re just a Pale Blue Dot, but when I remember to think about it, I find it very comforting. None of this matters quite so much as we think, so we might as well be happy.

Earth, as seen from Voyager 1 as it looked back before leaving the solar system. “That’s it. That’s us.” – Carl Sagan.


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