Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pale Blue Dot

Check out this enchanting video of the earth at night, a time-lapse video captured from the International Space Station. The aurora flung high in the thermosphere, the illuminated veins of civilization, the vast swaths of darkness, the commonplace flickering of thunderstorms - how utterly humbling and lovely.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.

When I was in the Altai mountains, far from any village or city, I took great comfort in the night time sky. No matter how lonely or stressed I may have been, there was always the Milky Way, Orion, Ursa Major and Minor, Venus and Mars. No matter how alien my surroundings, the patterns in the sky that I learned as a child remained the same. Without any light pollution, Mongolian nights were ethereal. Mars was a unmistakable red orb. The Milky Way was so prominent, so clearly a river of our galaxy's stars across the sky, so moving - that it seemed the only thing worthy of lending a name to my newly-trapped eagle. She was "Alema"- based on the Kazakh translation of the Milky Way, literally, "the sky's road".

The video above can only make me think of this one. If you have a spare minute, do watch it. If the view from the space station is humbling, take a few steps further back. Look at the pale blue dot. "That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you've ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives." Nobody could say it like Carl.


therese said...

Awesome video!

I do the same thing with the night sky, especially the moon, since the stars in the southern hemisphere are confusing (been trying to work on that the last few years). No matter where in the world I am I'm looking at the same moon as the people back home and the lonelyness is lessened...

Lauren McGough said...

Thanks, T - you know what I mean :)