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Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  32,509 ratings  ·  1,069 reviews
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Carl Sagan traces our exploration of space and suggests that our very survival may depend on the wise use of other worlds. This stirring book reveals how scientific discovery has altered our perception of who we are and where we stand, and challenges us to weigh what we will do with that knowledge. Photos, many in color.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 8th 1997 by Ballantine Books (first published November 8th 1994)
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Christopher Griffen "Cosmos," as I remember it, is a rather scientific guide to astronomy and planetology. "Pale Blue Dot" has a much broader scope and a great deal more …more"Cosmos," as I remember it, is a rather scientific guide to astronomy and planetology. "Pale Blue Dot" has a much broader scope and a great deal more exploratory topics. From terraforming to the future of humanity as a species. I think it makes a nice companion to "Cosmos."(less)

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Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For the majority of my life, reading was never an interest. At all. I spent most of my childhood watching movies and playing video games and football. Reading was boring, time-consuming and pointless.
But then, when I was around sixteen or so, something happened that changed my life drastically. I discovered Carl Sagan.

I still remember buying the DVD set of Cosmos, unpacking it, excitedly starting it, and turning the volume up to the max. I watched all the episodes in a day: I couldn't stop. An
Sep 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
I recently came across several references to this book while reading the superb God Delusion. I was intrigued, and since it had been quite a while since I read Cosmos, I decided to give Carl Sagan another go.
Besides his beautiful evocative descriptions of moons and worlds in our own Solar system, Sagan gave us a surplus of inspirational and cautionary passages in this work which--even as an adult--make you want to grow up to be an astronaut.
Roy Lotz
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Once, in German class, I recommended Carl Sagan’s magnificent Cosmos television series to a classmate. “Wow,” she said. “That’s the first time somebody suggested Carl Sagan to me who wasn’t a pothead.” I wasn’t sure if that was an insult or a compliment; I said “thanks” anyway.

Although I’m sure Carl Sagan can be enjoyed in a variety of altered states, he can be enjoyable for those of us here on earth too. In fact, the message of this book can (if one can stomach the cliché) justly be described a
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
As Oscar Wilde once said: "we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars".
Carl Sagan is one of those thought leaders who direct our sights and aspirations to the best of what humankind can potentially achieve, and inspires us to find the courage to ask the deeper questions, and to nurture our willingness to embrace "what is true rather than what feels good".
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
There was a time when I simply could NOT get enough of Carl Sagan. I read everything he wrote, watched every documentary that he made. I adore him still. Pale Blue Dot is NOT like Cosmos, the book with which most people are familiar. Cosmos dealt with astronomy and gave you a basic understanding of the entire "cosmos" in a way that you would understand. It's one of the reasons it is so popular. In Pale Blue Dot, Sagan is speaking to those who love the Earth, love its relationship to the Cosmos, ...more
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title of the book, Pale Blue Dot, was taken from the instantly infamous Pale Blue Dot photograph taken by Voyager 1 in 1990. The back story to that image is worth describing before actually talking about the book itself.

Here is the image,


Can you see Earth? Can you see our tiny little Earth? Look harder. There, ‘suspended in a sunbeam,’ is a tiny pale blue dot.

This is what Sagan had to say:

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’
Orhan Pelinkovic
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Consider this book as Part 2 to Carl Sagan's Cosmos. If you enjoyed reading the Cosmos, then feel free to pick this one up, if you haven't read the Cosmos, read it first then continue with a Pale Blue Dot.

I've read the Ballantine Book 1994 Edition / Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan / 384 pages / 103,295 words.
Even though this book was written in 1994 it's still highly relevant today. We have learnt a lot more about the planets since then with the numerous Mars rovers, the Cassini mission to Saturn and other missions way out as far as Pluto. Advances in space based telescopes have told us that exoplanets are very common, in fact most stars seem to have them. Back when this was written it was only a theory that other stars would have planets. I found myself wondering what Carl would have written if he ...more
Aug 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Al Gore's "The Inconvinient Truth"
WOW....WOW....WOW. Carl Sagan, what a champ. Fiction from scientists/astrologists may be a bummer (see Contact), but Carl drops the BOMB in this work. Truly ahead of his time and a great american. A great intro into science/astrology and really helped me understand a lot about all the planets and their make-up. Once we kill earth (pretty soon), perhaps we aren't TOTALLY fucked, their are other options out there if we get with it...but hey, we killed earth so why listen to Sagan. I drive an SUV, ...more
Chris Friend
Oct 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Sci-fi fans, space fans, humanitarians
I was impressed by how much I enjoyed this one. I've not read any Sagan before, so I didn't know what to expect, but he's one of those brilliant scientists who understands how to clearly explain things to laypeople. His story (I use the term though it reads more like a collection of journal entries or brief reports) covers wide-ranging topics about the implications and necessity of space travel, posing questions frequently, answering them occasionally, and leading inexorably to a single conclusi ...more
Humbling vistas

'Pale Blue Dot', updated version of a photograph of the Earth, 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles) away, taken by Voyager in 1990, part of the 'Family Portrait of the Solar System' series of photographs

Main themes:

- A quick overview of the history of mankind, our migrations & thirst for discovery, our technical achievements, ...

- The actual place of mankind in the known universe (exposing various anthropocentrist myths about the unique position of the human species, Earth
Apr 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Pale Blue Dot refers to the Earth as photographed from the Voyager craft at a point beyond the orbit of Neptune. Of course at that distance, the Earth is barely discernible - a very small, unremarkable, pale blue dot among a myriad of billions of other unremarkable points of light. Yet all our history, civilization, and culture that we have ever known has occurred on that dot.

Even though our ingrained geo-centric and ethno-centric biases cause us to become deflated and even depressed at the real
Jun 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Take Carl’s revered “Pale Blue Dot” speech, and multiply it by, say, the power of ten. That’s Pale Blue Dot. And the fact that it’s only by the power of ten... well, that’s how great that speech is.
Dec 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
I brought this book to work with me during the incredibly slow weeks of the holiday season. The book was repetitive, full of purple prose, and overly sentimental about "science" in a way that reminded me of my parochial school days. I had expected a good book explaining stuff about astronomy, science, whathaveyou, but it was mostly emotional pandering to atheists who think they're morally/intellectually superior to non-atheists. There was a whole lot of nothing for a couple hundred pages that ca ...more
Jul 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Pale Blue Dot was Carl's last book, written while he was battling cancer and published after his death. Sagan was responsible for having NASA rotate a Voyager spacecraft (as it was leaving the solar system) and photograph the planets, including of course the Earth, which was appeared as a pale blue dot.
I think Carl Sagan is a must read for any person who wants to be educated. Carl was a true Renascence Man, and his best gift ( of many) was teaching us about perspective. Perspective makes us wis
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this shortly after it came out back in the mid-90s & really liked it, so when I found an audio edition, I jumped on it. Glad I did! This edition was made partially with the original audio that Carl narrated, but there is progressively more narration by his wife filling in gaps left by time. Both were excellent & really have a lot of enthusiasm. They're slow, though. This is one of the few books where I went up to 2x rather than 1.5x, my normal listening speed.

There wasn't much new to me,
Kirti Upreti
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The greatest experience you get by reading a book is to plunge into the mind of the author. When you understand someone so closely, you tend to develop a strong connection with them.

The authors that I've read - I find some of them closer to my heart than most of the people I've known in my life. They are always there by my side - guiding me, opening my mind and giving me strength. Carl Sagan is one of those few, now.
Shruti Badole
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pale Blue Dot: literally one of the best books I have read.

You might think I am enlisting the book in that category because I am an Astrophysics student. I won’t deny that I might be ‘biased’ that way, but in all honesty, I feel that this is one book that every person should give a read. Having watched and thoroughly enjoyed the Cosmos series by Carl Sagan, I couldn’t wait to read his books (although, I did wait. I watched that series more than three years ago!). Insightful, inspiring and refre
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, non-fiction
This book was very well written by an excellent physicist. It was one of those books that really makes you consider the world around you and the massive scale of the Universe.
The first chapter contemplated the arrogance and self-centred nature of humans, and presented the notion that humans are exceedingly small compared to the vast Universe. For the first time I really comprehended how tiny our species are. It is quite an obvious concept that gets lost in everyday worries, fears and troubles. N
S.Baqer Al-Meshqab
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
The entire Earth is but a point, and the place of our own habitation but a minute corner of it.

The is my first packed-with-information book, ever. One might think that it is a pure scientific text which goes on and on about facts and numbers and laws and whatsoever that can drag the soul out of you - not denying that it isn't - but seriously, look at the title - A Pale Blue Dot - isn't poetic enough? As the writer suggests "Knowing how things work doesn't make the
Bipul Roy
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Must read this book, when ever you frown at someone at their small mistake and showing your egoistic authority at someone. This book will surely prove to be ego diminishing. Read it when ever your mind is facing giant storm of the "I" concept, all you feeling of self significance will vanish away.

Best one from Carl Sagan(about earth on watching its picture taken from the robotic probe at about 7-8 billion miles away,from the edge of solar system the earth appeared to be a dust particle):

"Look a
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Despite all our limitations and fallibilities, we humans are capable of greatness."

Carl Sagan changed my life the way i used to think a few years ago. I don't think no one can ever change that attitude unless taking our perception beyond the cosmic level. Maybe Multiversal and I know for sure that even that person must be inspired from Sagan.

The book has some of the best gem of Sagan. So many excerpts left me overflowing with tears and joys of being able to witness and face such frontier.

"We w
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very well-written book about the history of space travelling/exploration and its possible future.

When I started reading it, I felt like I was reading poetry. Sagan had a really compelling, engaging and precious way of writing. It's something that definitely makes the reading experience much more attractive and delighting. I am not a huge fan of the topic, but after reading this, I can't deny that is utterly interesting.

The book is clearly out of date, but I like the undertone that it has. Furthe
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“... humans are inconsequential, a thin film of life on an obscure and solitary lump of rock and metal.”

This was the first audio book I've listened to. Frankly, I was a little skeptic about audio books, at first, only to discover how amazing it is to have your book read to you especially if it's the author himself. In the first few chapters, the narrator had to take audible breaths between phrases it was a bit annoying but other than that, it was impeccable.

I took all my time to slowly abso
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
You can read full review here

Wow! this book is just wow. I remember, in 2014 I watched this short film called Wanderers, and you know I loved it. I have read few more books by Carl Sagan, but I got to know about this book after watching this video.

And after reading this book, I can say that it was my favorite book of the year 2015 and I'm very happy that I ended my year with this book.

If I talk about Carl Sagan, do you know what separate him or distinguish him from other brilliant people out th
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
I miss Carl Sagan. I really do.

There are no shortage of brilliant scientists out there, imaginative and innovative people who are dedicated to the advancement of science and the betterment of the human race.

The difference between Sagan and the rest of them is that he was able to make it beautiful. When he talked, you could feel his excitement, his joy at knowing that there was a wonderful universe out there, waiting for us to discover it. In his most famous work, Cosmos, he introduced the wonder
Daniel Villines
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Daniel by: Jamie, but by osmosis.
It's been my experience that people express themselves best when they are discussing the most exciting aspects of their lives. Give me an inch of enthusiasm for engineering and I can throw back a mile's worth of discussion regarding hydrology, hydraulics, and past projects. By opening Pale Blue Dot, the reader might as well be asking Sagan about his career as a scientist. And unlike engineering, Sagan's career has been amazing.

For most inquisitors, and probably to the discouragement of Sagan, hi
Syed Fathi
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bought, science, favorites
This book is part planetary science and part imagination. The ideas are really captivating, it makes you wanna pack your bag and bought your space flight ticket and wander in the cosmic darkness. It is really hard to put it down, I hope that my daughter will grow up fast, so she could read this book.

The early chapter discussed about cosmic vastness and how insignificant our planet when we compare with the infinite darkness. This insignificance is captured by Voyager 2 during its mission in Neptu
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: carl-sagan-reads
“The Cosmos extends, for all practical purposes, forever. Our remote descendants, safely arrayed on many worlds throughout the Solar System and beyond, will be unified by their common heritage, by their regard for their home planet, and by the knowledge that, whatever other life may be, the only humans in all the Universe come from Earth.” —Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

A very enjoyable and exciting read. Essential for any Carl Sagan fan, and a must-read for any
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful and inspirational look at the cosmos and our exploration of it. It may seem even perhaps dated now because this book was written 25 years ago. But Sagan is a timeless philosopher about our place in the cosmos. By turns technical and scientific, with a nice mix of inquiry and evocation. The retelling of the Voyager missions was also very interesting. The Voyagers are now sailing in the interstellar regions and will one day be the only indicators that life once existed on earth, thanks ...more
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In 1934, scientist Carl Sagan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. After earning bachelor and master's degrees at Cornell, Sagan earned a double doctorate at the University of Chicago in 1960. He became professor of astronomy and space science and director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, and co-founder of the Planetary Society. A great popularizer of science, Sagan produced th ...more

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“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 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. 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.

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.”
“How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?” Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.” 597 likes
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