A View of Our Home

Earlier this year, NASA’s NPP ( National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project), took a series of images of the earth, which, when stitched together, produced this absolutely stunning image.

We really do have a beautiful home, don’t we? And for an even more incredible view, click here to view the 8000 x 8000 pixel version, it’s well worth it.

I came across this image at Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog; the place where I get most of the astronomy photos that I post here.  In his post about this image he had this to say,

Apropos of nothing, I’ll note the images making up this seamless mosaic were taken around the same time the Earth was at perihelion, when it was closest to the Sun in its orbit. There is nothing particularly important about that fact, but still… when I see pictures like this I think about how amazing our planet is, and how wonderfully well-adapted we are to it. Evolution is a stochastic process, a semi-random series of bumps and false starts that literally made us who were are today. But that doesn’t change the feeling of comfort I get when I see a picture of Earth, floating in space, sitting in the brightest and warmest sunlight of the year.

Perfectly said, Phil.

The Fragile Oasis

Last week I posted a video of the earth as seen from the International Space Station. Yesterday, I came across a similar video, but with an important difference, this video is attached to a greater movement. Astronaut Ron Garan, who took the photos to create this time-lapse video, along with other stunning photos such as the one above, was so impacted by this view, that he set out to effect some change with it. On his site he writes,

Seeing humanity’s magnificent accomplishment against the backdrop of our indescribably beautiful Earth 250 miles below took my breath away. I wasn’t just looking down at the Earth.  I was looking at a planet hanging in the blackness of space.

It was very moving to see the beauty of the planet we’ve been given. But as I looked down at this indescribably beautiful fragile oasis, this island that has been given to us and has protected all life from the harshness of space, I couldn’t help thinking of the inequity that exists.

I couldn’t help but think of the people who don’t have clean water to drink, enough food to eat, of the social injustice, conflict, and poverty that exist.

The stark contrast between the beauty of our planet and the unfortunate realities of life for many of its inhabitants reaffirmed the belief I share with so many. Each and every one of us on this planet has the responsibility to leave it a little better than we found it.

What a beautiful and apt sentiment. Reminded me of Sagan’s “Reflections on a Mote of Dust.” Garan took this inspiration and created Fragile Oasis, a way to create a community with the “common goal of sharing our humanity and improving our world.” As a lover of science, a history teacher, and an inhabitant of this “pale blue dot,” its difficult for me not to want to get involved in some way. Moreover, watching the news lately and seeing how painfully divided we are, how quickly we resort to violence in the face of disagreement, and how little we are willing to work together to secure a better future for ourselves and our children, amplifies that desire to want to do something, anything to change our course. Check the link, look at the video, and become inspired to do whatever little we can each do to create a better place to live. It doesn’t take much.


Every now and then, I come across something that realigns my perspective, making me stop and think about my life, this world, all we argue and fight over, and all we love and hold on to. Sometimes images like this allow us to zoom out just enough to regain our sense of place.  Thank you Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy for posting this, it’s simply fantastic.

Credit: NASA, Michael König, who used photos from NASA’s Gateway to Astronaut Photography of the Earth site.