I don’t know how I managed to sleep through this particular event, but apparently in 2007 and then again in 2008, the Japanese Kaguya lunar orbiter filmed a pair of Earthrises and Earthsets in full 1080 HD. You can watch them online, squashed down to an unfortunate 480 x 270:
I know I had a baby I was dealing with at the time, but man, how did I miss this? Please tell me it showed up as a blip on everyone else’s radar. It’s even available on DVD and Blu-Ray …in Japan only, naturally. If anyone going to Japan in the near and/or not-so-near future can find a copy of this for me and bring it home, I can pay you back by either promising to perform lewd acts upon your person, or promising to avoid performing lewd acts upon your person, whichever option you find more enticing. (Don’t everyone go booking your trips to Japan all at once.)
Seriously though, watching these little video clips play out at their languid pace puts me in mind of this bit of wisdom from the late Carl Sagan:
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.
Just a little something to think about. I could watch this stuff all day.
EDIT: and I can; in the absence of the official DVD, JAXA’s English-translated YouTube channel will do just spiffy.