The Overview Effect

“When we look down at the Earth from space we see this amazing, indescribably beautiful planet – it looks like a living, breathing organism. But it also, at the same time, looks extremely fragile.” – Ron Garan

Despite the fabulously futuristic  (and costly) efforts of Richard Branson and Friends,  the Overview Effect – “an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it” — is not something I am likely to experience here before shuffling off.

“Overview,” on the other hand, sounds a bit more attainable:

On the 40th anniversary of the famous ‘Blue Marble’ photograph taken of Earth from space, Planetary Collective presents a short film documenting astronauts’ life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often described as the Overview Effect.

The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.

The transformative experience of seeing our home planet for the first time is not one that I, a post-Space Race Earthling, had really given much thought until today. It’s fascinating to me, though, particularly since it was a “one-time event,” and one that we will never again experience as a race. No wonder the Overview Effect was felt so dramatically in those early days.

The Effect’s effect — “a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment” — reads like a laundry list of emotions Mankind could afford to feel a lot more regularly than we do. But there’s another feeling mixed in there, as well — one I, earthbound though I be, experience in some small measure every time I see one of those spectacular “Blue Marble” image from the folks at NASA.

It’s not just a feeling of awe for our home world; it’s a feeling of awe for its Architect.

The massive scope and “otherworldly” beauty of the planet we call home — a world that seems so enormous to those of us on its surface, yet one that takes up such a teeny, tiny corner of the universe He has crafted — makes me feel about as insignificant as is humanly possible.

Interesting how the “God’s Eye” view actually makes one feel a whole lot less godlike.

Attribution(s): Photos courtesy of Getty Images, which allows the use of certain images “as long as the photo is not used for commercial purposes (meaning in an advertisement or in any way intended to sell a product, raise money, or promote or endorse something).”

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