In Saturn’s shadow – oh the significance

Last night I had the undeniable pleasure of seeing Carolyn Porco speak at CU. Carolyn heads up the Cassini project in conjunction with NASA to take photos of Saturn. She’s a vibrant and emotional speaker, infecting her audience with her enthusiasm for space studies. I’ve met her on several occasions at Lu Cordova’s house and had no idea she was literally a rocket scientist.

I have been moved by the images the project has captured, which you can browse here… the most moving image she displayed for us is the one below. What you can’t see in this little thumbnail is a little tiny speck.  The speck is on the left side of the screen, just barely above the half way point of Saturn, just inside the second (from the outside) faint outermost ring. Can you see it? That’s earth.

Solar eclipse of Saturn

This photo is of Saturn in a full eclipse of the sun, with the light reflecting off Earth and Saturn’s rings. When I see this photo, I am literally moved. It’s not that I feel insignificant. It’s that I feel the significance of the galaxy. How can we be so egocentric to imagine there isn’t life elsewhere when you see this photo?

So thank you to Carolyn Porco and the whole Cassini team for making these images available to us.