Science Brings Rare Planetary Event To Our Living Rooms

Source: NASA

For those of you who, like me, didn’t have a pair of eyeball-protecting goggles to watch as the planet Venus crossed the face of the sun this past Tuesday, here’s some stunning HD images released by NASA yesterday. The pictures were collected by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which is, according to NASA, “the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun.” NASA’s website states:

During its five-year mission, it will examine the sun’s atmosphere, magnetic field and also provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth’s atmospheric chemistry and climate. SDO provides images with resolution 8 times better than high-definition television and returns more than a terabyte of data each day.On June 5 2012, SDO collected images of the rarest predictable solar event–the transit of Venus across the face of the sun.

Tuesday’s astronomical event, which lasted six hours, is among that rarest of planetary alignments (only seven of them have happened since the invention of the telescope).  The last transit of Venus was in 2004 (the transits occur in pairs, with 8 years between them) and the next will not happen until 2117. There are those that say Tuesday’s transit heralds a spiritual and technological revolution here on our blue planet; heaven knows we need one right about now. In the meantime we have these photos:



The SDO’s amazing accomplishment is due to the dedication and expertise of scientists, of course. Yet arm-chair climate skeptics whose biggest claim to scientific and technological accomplishment is to turn on their computer and use their television’s remote control, feel entitled to weigh in on climate science. Give me a break.

More links:

NASA’s Goddard Flight Centre: SDO ‘s View of Venus Transit 2012

Venus Chasers Of The 18th Century

Venus Makes Rare Trek Across Sun

The Meaning of the Venus Transit in June 2012

The Earth Does Not Belong To Humans, But Humans Belong To The Earth

I’m lucky enough to live on a lake, in the middle of the boreal forest in the Canadian Shield. My bedroom window looks out onto a forested slope that ends in the water. When I woke up at 5:30 this morning our bedroom was bathed in pink. I got up and looked out the window, and the sky, forest, and lake were also glowing a brilliant rose from the rising sun. Five minutes later, the glow had faded to a light orange and in ten minutes everything was back to “normal”. But those five minutes were awe-inspiring.

Because of what humans have been doing to our environment, we are poised on the precipice of ecological disaster. Climate change and ocean acidification are two of the most pressing examples of reaping what we’ve sowed. These words, attributed to Chief Seattle of the Duwamish Tribe, ring especially true today:

“This we know. The earth does not belong to humans, but humans belong to the earth.

This, also we know – humanity does not spin this web of life. We are merely a strand in it. It is like the lifeblood that ties us all together. And, whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”

If we are to successfully rise to the challenges that face us, it will be the energy of love that will power our transformation. Love for our children and grandchildren, and for the creatures with which we share this world. Love for the amazing world we find ourselves in, our planetary home; that “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam“, as Carl Sagan described earth. And the love and awe that I felt today, looking out at the beauty of the sunrise in the boreal forest.

“Understanding is another name for love; love is another name for understanding.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

More links:

Loving Kindness Meditation

Success! No More Sea Turtles Will Be Burned

A Victory for Whales: Plan To Legalize Whaling Fails

Ten Essential Renewable Energy News Stories This Week

The BP Catastrophe is Not Just A Spill, But a Spoiling of God’s Creation

Language fails us. This is not a “spill,” but a spoiling of God’s creation — of wetlands and beaches; of God’s myriad creatures; of lives and livelihoods. And we heard many testimonies of this devastation over these last few days. The words that kept coming to my mind were “reflection, restoration, and renewal.”

~ Excerpted from “Praying on the Gulf Coast“,

by Jim Wallis on God’s Politics Blog, Sojourners

photo by Georgianne Nienaber

photo by Lois Nickel

More links:

Praying on the Gulf Coast

Facing The Future As A Media Felon On the Gulf Coast – Georgianne Nienaber

Take Time To Renew Your Spirit

“We have a responsibility to protect the rights of generations, of all species, that cannot speak for themselves today. The global challenge of climate change requires that we ask no less of our leaders, or ourselves.”

~ Wangari Maathai, Nobel laureate and founder of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement

Shoreline of Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba


A Prayer For Our Beloved Earth

T. Thorn Coyle blogs at on her thoughts on practice, philosophy, politics and love. She wrote A Prayer For My Beloved in response to the catastrophe in the Gulf. Here are excerpts from it. To read the entire prayer, click here.

You have carried us, these long millions of years,
We beasts, we leafy fronds, we crouching walkers.
The ice has come, the ice has gone again.
Your crust has softened, hardened, cooled, and warmed…

Oil gushes from your sandy floor, betrayal.
Chemicals suffuse once fertile soil.
Holes are rent above your southern quadrant,
Mountains blasted open, or felled clear.

Your oceans saline quick, flow in our blood.
Lover, forever we can say, “I’m sorry,”
But actions speak far louder than strong words,
And we, though brave and brash, are also feeble.

Lover, I fall now to my knees before you.
I will not beg forgiveness, not just yet.
My good friends shall be gathered all around me,
Holding hands, we will make better still, amends

image copyright Conor Ashleigh 2008

Our Beautiful Planet, A “Mote of Dust Suspended in a Sunbeam”

The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken in 1990 by Voyager 1 from a record distance, showing it against the vastness of space.

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.

~ Carl Sagan, Scientist and Writer

For more, you can watch this video narrated by Sagan, to hear him and see more pictures of this beautiful planet: