Saturn and us

The Cassini folks have already released photos from humanity’s biggest selfie, and one in particular is simply gorgeous. It is, of course, the one featuring us. In total, Cassini took a mosaic of 33 “footprints” spanning Saturn and its entire ring system, and within each footprint there were numerous photos taken in different spectral filters, for a result of 323 images.

But only one of the footprints shows this:

Saturn  blue dot

(Click the image to embiggen; there are also bigger PNG and TIF files here, along with explanatory text.)

I’m guessing you already found Earth, the “pale blue dot,” but just in case, here’s a helper:

Saturn  blue dot arrow

The Cassini team explain:

The dark side of Saturn, its bright limb, the main rings, the F ring, and the G and E rings are clearly seen; the limb of Saturn and the F ring are overexposed. The ‘breaks’ in the brightness of Saturn’s limb are due to the shadows of the rings on the globe of Saturn, preventing sunlight from shining through the atmosphere in those regions. The E and G rings have been brightened for better visibility.

Earth, which is 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away in this image, appears as a blue dot at center right; the Moon can be seen as a fainter protrusion off its right side.

Even in the large version, it’s hard to see the Moon, but you can view an isolated and enlarged bit of the photo here.

I firmly believe that someday, in the not too distant future, humans will see this view with their own eyes. I just wish I could be there with them.


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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3 Responses to Saturn and us

  1. Jorge says:

    From Saturn? That not too distant future would be centuries. At best. Just look at the time that went by between us going to the Moon and going to Mars.

    Oh wait. That’s right. We stil haven’t gone to Mars.

    • oregon expat says:

      That’s because we got distracted. When we were determined, though, stuff happened and it happened fast. I still have faith that at some point, we’re going to pull our collective heads out of our behinds and remember that getting out there is the only way our species will survive. And then, it’ll happen fast (again).

      • Jorge says:

        The idealistical me would love to agree with that, but the cynical me doesn’t let it to, shouting louder “is there money in it? Yeah, sure, eventually. No money in it? Nah! Never.”

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