Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pale Blue Dot

First off, the perigee moon that I expected not to see last night because of our cloud cover and 36 STRAIGHT HOURS OF SNOW. Twitter is great, first I met ad men, now I'm meeting astronomers. I asked Tavi Greiner--whose new website I have as a link on the left--to send a photo from Houston with a stick figure of me looking at it, but she did one better, putting my photo in the window. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN posted the version of the photo without me in it, otherwise on might think the moon was rising over an asylum. I did see the moon after all, when I took my border collie out at 2:30 AM, the snow had stopped an I could see the moon behind the clouds. Two years back, when I was working until 2 AM at the printing plant (the parking lot led to the woods which led to the Cal Sag Channel), I saw a deer at the edge of the tree line under a full moon. I'll always remember that instant.

OK, now. The Pale Blue Dot. This photo is from Astronomy Photo of The Day (APOD), the sun behind Saturn courtesy of the Cassini spacecraft. At the edge of the ring on the upper left, Carl Sagan's "pale blue dot," the Earth. Sagan had a wonderful quote that Sid Williams emailed me after 9/11 and I saw it again today when I hit one of the links on the APOD site. Here goes:
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.

Puts everything into perspective, you know. We aren't going anyplace for awhile, if we don't go all Planet of The Apes or Soylent Green first. I may post about Earth-14 or Earth-22 (don't get me started that Marvel has about 60,000 multiversal Earths, with DC sticking with 52 for now, and yes, Bob, Mort Weisinger was the idiot savant of National Periodicals, DC's old name.) But I'm here with all you guys, friends, fans, foes, FoxNews=fatalism, Frank Miller, Finger Alley, and I have no idea why I'm stuck on the F's unless I'm maybe leading up to Full Throttle & Fuck It, which is the title of Steve Malley's blog. Yea, 6.2 billion people in a pretty small place. Carl Sagan was one cool cat


HemlockMan said...

We're stuck on this rock and we ain't goin' nowhere. All the Trekkie dreams of flying out to distant stars and exploring strange new worlds--it's a pipe dream. The corporate slugs stole our treasure and spent it on male prostitutes. We can't even afford to travel to the next nearest rock in space, much less to those glittering stars light years away.

We're fucked.

Soylent Green will seem like a Paradise by the time we're done.

Charles Gramlich said...

Well, except for those ancient astronauts who mated with primitive primates to nurture the hopeful monster known as the human race.

Capcom said...

Nice pic of you and the moon!

Yes, I saw that image a Saturn yesterday and still can't get it straight in my head, concerning the planet itself. I know it's enhanced but it's looks so odd. It's really so amazing to be able to see these things!

Capcom said...

And don't forget everyone, 2009 is designated the International Year Of Astronomy, so be sure to explore and observe! :-D

Steve Malley said...

In among all those hopes and dreams, let's not forget the legions of medieval peasants out in the fields, humping like mad under the full May moon to ensure the fertility of the fields.

I raise my glass to whoever thought that one up and got the gals to buy it. Or maybe it was the women, finally convincing their menfolk to go al fresco, who knows....

Rich Chwedyk said...

I wrote a story based on a very similar photo of Saturn from the Cassini Probe. It was called "Where We Go" and it appeared in a nifty trade paperback called VISUAL JOURNEYS, edited by Eric Reynolds. Got me an honorable mention in the back of the Dozois "Best of" for last year, so I'm grateful in oh so many ways to Cassini, plus one.