Skip to content

The BIG Reason

Music, opinions, and portfolio of Mark Eagleton, musician and web developer in Northern CA.


This is where I tell you what I really think. This website doesn’t support comments by design, that is what your blog is for!

Viewing articles tagged with “astronomy.”

  1. Earth from 6 billion kilometers


    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.

    The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

    Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

    The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

    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.

    —Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

    The audio of the original Pale Blue Dot video on YouTube has been muted for copyright violations. There are other versions, but they use additional images of Earth which completely deminishes the message.

    Look at this single photograph—the most amazing of our planet ever taken—by Voyager 1 at over 6 billion kilometers away while you play the audio track.

    Carl Sagan Day is November 9th.

  2. Fresh to Market Star Chart ice cream
  3. Chelyabinsk meteoroid explosion remnants
  4. Meteor shower diagram

    Front Row Seat

    The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks tomorrow night (December 13, 2012) between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.. That’s between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time, everywhere on the planet. Why so late? Well that’s because between midnight and 2 a.m. is when the part of the earth you are on is plowing head on into the meteors.

  5. Neptune?
  6. Venus transit 2012

    Some Perspective On The Venus Transit

    Last week’s transit of Venus made for some big scuttlebutt in nerdy astronomy circles. What’s the big deal with Venus’ orbit bringing it between us and the sun? After all, from Venus’ perspective, it’s just business as usual. Well, it’s our perspective that makes the event so interesting. It is, after all, the story of how we learned the scale of our solar system.

  7. The sun

    Project The Transit of Venus With Binoculars

    On June 5, 2012 (or June 6th depending on your location), Venus will pass between us and the sun, obscuring portions of it sort of like a tiny eclipse. This is called a transit, and the next time Venus does this, everyone you know will be dead. So take a few minutes out of your afternoon check it out. Here is a super-easy way.

  8. Annular solar eclipse

    It’s Annular Eclipse Day

    There is going to be an annular solar eclipse today! That means the moon will cast a shadow on the earth as it passes between us and the sun while it is at apogee (the furthest distance it gets from earth in its eliptical orbit). This results is a big, black ball with a ring of fire surrounding it. That ring is called an annulus, which is why we call it an annular eclipse.

  9. The International Space Station

    How To Track The ISS And Watch It Fly Across The Sky

    The International Space Station (ISS) is cool. It’s a multi-section science lab in low Earth orbit (about 240 miles up), constructed and manned by personal from NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency(JAXA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). It travels at over 17,000 miles per hour, completely circling the globe every 91 minutes.

    See? Cool.