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Bringing the sky down to Earth
Home -> Astronomy -> Pale Blue Dot

Pale Blue Dot: The Earth viewed from 4 billion miles away
Written & published: July 2007

Actually, more than 4 billion miles away!

The Voyager 1 space probe is the most distant human-made object in space. Launched on 5th September 1977, the spacecraft is now on the brink of interstellar space, at over 9 billion miles away.

On 14th February 1990 Voyager looked back towards the Earth and took a photograph. Just like the landmark photo of the Earth as seen from the Moon ('Earthrise'), Voyager's photo marked a new era in human perception of our place in the Universe.

It shows the Earth as a pale blue dot, less than 1 pixel wide, and so the photo became known by that phrase.

Pale Blue Dot - Earth from over 4 billion miles away

Image courtesy NASA/JPL


Travelling at 38,400 miles per hour, the probe is so far away now that light from the Earth takes over 13 hours to arrive. It is expected to cease functioning by around 2020.

Voyager 1 is in the constellation of Ophiuchus, and at 16 degrees of the Sign of Sagittarius. Whether those placements have any significance or not, who knows, but it's tempting to contemplate them in terms of human exploration given that Sagittarius is the Sign of long distance travel, adventure, and broadening perspectives, ranging far and wide to see what's there and encounter new horizons.

"A Chinese tale tells of some men sent to harm a young girl who, upon seeing her beauty, become her protectors rather than her violators. That's how I felt seeing the Earth for the first time. I could not help but love and cherish her."
                                   Taylor Wang, Astronaut, China/USA


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