For thousands of years, humanity believed that Earth was at the centre of the universe. But as we began to delve further into physics and developed more powerful technology, it didn’t take long for scientists to realise that not only was our planet not the centre of everything, but that it was virtually insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe.
Over the last century, scientists, governments, organisations, and individuals have worked hard to map the cosmos around us, which includes history-changing photographs. These are some of the most important images in the world of astronomy.
The Pale Blue Dot
Captured on the 14th of February of 1990 by Voyager 1, Pale Blue Dot is perhaps the best representation we have of just how tiny our plant truly is when compared to the backdrop of the rest of the universe. It was one of the final pictures taken by the spacecraft as it was heading out of the solar system, and it depicts our home as an almost invisible dot that’s suspended in a beam of light.
It’s also the image that inspired the famous speech by astrophysicist Carl Sagan, and remains a powerful reminder of how important it is to look after our planet, as there are none like it anywhere close to us. This was just a series of photos that was taken by Voyager 1 as it moved through our solar system, and it managed to capture images of other planets and moons along the way.
One of the very earliest images taken of the planet Earth, Earthrise was captured on the 24th of December in 1968 by the Apollo 8 crew, which consisted of Bill Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lowell. While it appears that the picture was taken from the surface of the moon, it was a year before man first landed on the moon, and this image was actually taken from space, just above the lunar surface. It’s a beautiful image of the planet that has become a part of mainstream media over the last few decades, from video games to movies to the best AFL betting sites, and just about anyone would be able to recognise it instantly.
A supermassive black hole is the largest celestial object in the observable universe. They’ve massive wells of gravity that are able to bend the space and time around them, and taking pictures of them in the past was impossible. This all changed in 2019 when scientists were able to capture the very first image of a black hole, and while the image is hazy, it was an important moment in our quest to view all bodies present in the night sky.
The picture taken was galaxy M87, which is 53 million light years away from Earth. Astronomers made use of a technique known as interferometry, which made use of 8 radio telescopes found through the world to snap images at M87 for a total of 8 days, after which the data they collected was merged into a single image, which was what was eventually given to the public.