Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Tuesday 25 February - Earth: The Pale Blue Dot

On 14 February 1990 Voyager 1, then 4 billion miles from the Sun, looked back for the last time and took a series of photographs of the Sun and six planets from 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane.  NASA has reprocessed the photograph below. Click to enlarge.

Courtesy Voyager Project, NASA and JP-Caltech who hold the copyright
As a backdrop to my 64cm high model Saturn V rocket which I built a couple of years ago, I have another famous photograph: Earthrise, taken by Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders from lunar orbit on 24 December 1968.


  1. Mind boggling. I can only see a single tiny white spot. Are you saying that is Earth? What is the broad white band going from south to north?

  2. Sir Hugh - Yes that's Earth, about a pixel in size, caught in a scattered ray of sunlight (the broad band). After this photograph was taken, Voyager 1's camera was turned off and in August 2012 the spacecraft entered interstellar space.

    1. Sorry Conrad - re-reading my post I notice that I didn't say that the Pale Blue Dot was Earth. I think that's what Steven Pinker calls 'the curse of knowledge' - when people write and make assumptions about what their readers know.

  3. Thanks. So why is there nothing else visible? Perhaps the area covered in the whole doesn't cover enough to show the nearest "others" to Earth? It is all a bit of a mystery to me. That is no criticism of your explanations, just my inadequate grasp of such monumental proportions.

  4. Sir Hugh - my post has obviously been far too limited for an intelligent reader such as yourself.
    Voyager 1 took a series of 60 mages that were used to create the first "family portrait" of our solar system. The image series captured Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus as well as Earth. Only Earth appears in the posted image. "Mars was obscured by scattered sunlight bouncing around in the camera, Mercury was too close to the Sun and dwarf planet Pluto was too tiny, too far away and too dark to be detected" (NASA). It also took an image of the Sun. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory mounted the entire mosaic on a wall and it covered 20 ft. Hope this helps. Like geological time these great distances are hard to get a grip of sometimes