The Sun (under the red arrow) as it appears to Voyager 1 craft which is over 11 billion miles from us as I write now
My Monday morning blues are always almost entirely about which bill is long overdue and when its claimant would call. And when the claimant calls, as they always do, what am I going to say? The problem with telling the truth, which I invariably do, is that it loses its appeal on the second or third telling. Lies at least have the merit of imagination. But I digress.
This morning I want to continue my uncritical acceptance of high technology made accessible by the Internet and broadband. In that series, I bring to you NASA’s one heck of a solar system exploration tool called ‘Eyes on the Solar System’.
This morning while exploring the tool my first instinct was to look at the solar system from the vantage point of a human made object as far from us any that has ever been. Naturally, the choice settled on Voyager 1, which 36 years after it was launched launched finally seems to be in the last stages of leaving our solar system to enter interstellar space. It is now over 11 billion miles or 18 billion kilometers from us. (See the image above).
From that staggering distance I jumped within a few thousand miles of the Earth using the same tool and went behind our home to look at the Sun and then around it. (See the images below). Incidentally, this image is pretty much what our planet would have looked like this morning even though I am not sure if these are indeed real time images.
The Earth (a slightly illuminated button in the foreground) as it would have appeared this morning around 7.30 a.m. CST if I were flying in space behind it
It was only when the United States came into my view and I began to look at the Chicago area that I started a painful descent into the realities of Monday morning. It is amazing how comforting it is to be disconnected from one’s oppressive mundaneness and how little it takes to disengage from it. NASA’s ‘Eyes on the Solar System’ tool is now a fantastic escape for me personally. Speaking of fantastic escapes I can already see that my Comcast bill is past due and and if I don’t pay the service will be disconnected; which means that I will not be able to catch up with Voyager 1 and look at the absurdities of my life from billions of miles away from where the Sun is but a hazy illumination and the Earth does not even seem like a possibility, let alone visible.
Levity aside, this is a great tool which all children must explore as much as they can. Apart from giving them a brilliant feel of our interplanetary neighborhood, it gives them a perspective which is slightly loftier than what they are normally used to.