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A Spec of Light in the Cosmos: Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Pale Blue Dot Image

Throughout 2019, the International Astronomical Union has been celebrating it’s 100th anniversary (IAU100) through a wide variety of projects and initiatives. Over 5000 astronomy activities have taken place in 140 countries worldwide to date. The final IAU100 global project was recently announced. Pale Blue Dot: Astronomy for Global Citizenship and Environmental Awareness celebrates the 30th anniversary of the iconic image.

 

IAU100 is inviting everyone to participate in its final global project by organising activities between 13-20 February 2020 to recognise the significant anniversary by organising activities around the topics of global citizenship and environmental awareness. In particular focusing on how astronomy can help us address today’s global challenges.

 

The Pale Blue Dot global project intends to facilitate event organizers to use astronomy as a tool to initiate conversations in their respective communities about global citizenship and uniting people from all cultures and backgrounds. Furthermore, this initiative aims to inform audiences about climate change by using the perspective of astronomy to remind the public that the Earth is our only habitable home. 
 
project page has been set up for interested event organizers, where a collection of resources and activity ideas have been compiled to facilitate the organisation of activities for the IAU100 Pale Blue Dot initiative that encourage the project’s themes.

 

You can register your event under the category “Pale Blue Dot” using this form.

 

 

Inspired by the 1990 Pale Blue Dot photograph take by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft (above), Carl Sagan, an American astronomer and science communicator, published the 1994 book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. The book features philosophy about humankind’s place within the greater Universe, perspectives on the future, and science about the solar system. In this book, he writes: 

 

“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
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… It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”

To learn more about this project and to join the celebrations, please visit the project's webpage on the IAU100 website or contact the event coordinator Bethany Downer.

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