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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"You are here"

This is the Astronomy Picture of the Day for October 16, 2006 as posted by NASA (click to enlarge)...

Here's the explanation from the page...
Explanation: In the shadow of Saturn, unexpected wonders appear. The robotic Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn recently drifted in giant planet's shadow for about 12 hours and looked back toward the eclipsed Sun. Cassini saw a view unlike any other. First, the night side of Saturn is seen to be partly lit by light reflected from its own majestic ring system. Next, the rings themselves appear dark when silhouetted against Saturn, but quite bright when viewed away from Saturn and slightly scattering sunlight, in the above exaggerated color image. Saturn's rings light up so much that new rings were discovered, although they are hard to see in the above image. Visible in spectacular detail, however, is Saturn's E ring, the ring created by the newly discovered ice-fountains of the moon Enceladus, and the outermost ring visible above. Far in the distance, visible on the image left just above the bright main rings, is the almost ignorable pale blue dot of Earth.
So you see that "star" that's on the left above the really bright rings? That tiny little dot? That's where you and I are, my friend. That small dot contains all the history and hopes and dreams and everything else from the entire span of humanity.

This is as humbling a photo as I've ever seen. Really puts things in proper perspective, doesn't it?