Reflections on Planet Earth

Astronomy Picture of the Day

http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap060719.html

ReflectionsOnPlanetEarth

This is such an amazing picture.  And in light of my recent post on the size of the universe, Feeling Insignificant Yet?, its perhaps another image to add at the beginning of that set of images.  Ostensibly, this is just a normal day at work for Michael Fossum.  Whether he was alerted to his visor reflection by colleague Piers Sellers or whether this is sheer serendipity isn’t known, but his effort to turn the camera back on himself gives us a truly stunning photo.

Perhaps the most striking thing is that this image has only been possible for half a century, and even conceivable for less than 100 years.  If we could show this image to someone stepping out of the 19th century, its hard to predict the psychic impact it would have.  Cars, and airplanes, and sky-scrapers are technological wonders that the 19th century man would marvel at, without a doubt.  But none of those, in themselves, forces a paradigm shift into the space age.  Even rockets themselves have an unreal quality that allows us to see them without fully integrating the impact into our psyches.  But its impossible to look at Sellers and Fossum, suspended in space with our fragile blue globe behind without acknowledging the different era we have entered.  More than any other, this image of two men hanging silently in the blackness, with the beautiful blue earth behind, is the image of new paradigms for our whole planet.  Welcome to the future … its clearly visible in this image.

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