The day Earth waved at Saturn
Last year in July, the Cassini spacecraft was briefly positioned so that it was in the orbit of Saturn, allowing it to point its cameras in the direction of the Sun and capture an ethereally beautiful image of Saturn’s backlit rings. Mission controllers knew that the Earth would be in the field of view of Cassini’s imaging systems, and publicised the event by comparing it to Voyager’s famous Pale Blue Dot image. Campaigners spread the word that as many people as possible on Earth should find Saturn and wave at it at precisely 21h27 on 19 July when the photograph would be taken. As with the original Pale Blue Dot image, the spacecraft was so far away from Earth that the entire planet appeared only as a single pixel in the photograph. Still, the people at The World At Night had a plan up their sleeve to create a slightly more interesting image. We were invited to take pictures of ourselves greeting Cassini and Saturn, and post them online for the team at TWAN to collect and combine with the Cassini image to create a fanciful mosaic of what Cassini might have seen with a more powerful telescope. The images (original, and mosaic) were released late last year, and if you were one of the many people who participated in the Great Wave, I invite you to break out your magnifying glass and peruse the image below and try to find yourself. My wife and I submitted two pictures, so bonus points if you can find us as well!