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“Overview:” The Perspective-Altering Effect of Seeing Earth from Space

For over 40 years, the ‘Blue Marble’ images of Earth taken from space have provided a new perspective of our planet, and the sometimes life-altering experience of such views was described in Frank White’s book “The Overview Effect,” published in 1987. When it came out, I gobbled it up, and have since read it several times.

Today, on the 40th anniversary of the final launch of the Apollo missions to the Moon, a new short film “Overview” has been released, which explores this phenomenon through interviews with five astronauts who have experienced first-hand seeing Earth from space.

“This view of the Earth from space – the whole Earth perspective – is, I think, the true symbol of this age,” says White in the film. “I believe … there’s going to be a greater and greater interest in communicating this idea because, after all, it’s key to our survival. We have to start acting as one species with one destiny. We are not going to survive if we don’t do that.”

The film is an inspiring look at how exploring space has given us look back at our own world and changed our perceptions. While some may say the Overview Effect is only a concept, an ideal outcome of space exploration that has yet to become a global phenomenon, I believe it is certainly something we should strive for.

The Blue Marble image from Apollo 17. Credit: Image courtesy NASA Johnson Space Center. See more info about it here.

The film includes:
Edgar Mitchell – Apollo 14 astronaut and founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences
Ron Garan – ISS astronaut and founder of humanitarian organization Fragile Oasis
Nicole Stott – Shuttle and ISS astronaut and member of Fragile Oasis
Jeff Hoffman – Shuttle astronaut and senior lecturer at MIT
Shane Kimbrough – Shuttle/ISS astronaut and Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army
Frank White – space theorist and author of the book ‘The Overview Effect’
David Loy- philosopher and author
David Beaver – philosopher and co-founder of The Overview Institute

It was produced by a group called Planetary Collective, specifically Guy Reid, Steve Kennedy and Christopher Ferstad.

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Steve Wolfhope December 7, 2012, 11:02 PM

    Awesome reminder of this delicate balance called EARTH and the recklessness of our world.Astronauts should be the stewards of vessel earth, not politicians.

  • Chester Twarog December 8, 2012, 3:40 AM

    It actually hasn’t change our view such that we still continue to think/talk as if we did not: sunrise/sunset; sun/moon/stars come up/go down; up north/down south; sun comes out instead of clouds dissipating. Still, just too much geocentric thinking and no actual global view that humanity is having a major impact on it.
    Sadly, even astronauts continue “seeing” 16 sunrises/sunsets or sun coming up/going down as they orbit Earth.

  • Winski December 8, 2012, 4:11 PM

    Stunning…

  • Sara Fatima December 8, 2012, 8:23 PM

    Read QURAN for all the answers, the change of day and night ,the stars ,earth ect …every thing is there in Quran …………Quran is the word of Allah (st), since 14000years no one can change his words from Quran .Its the challenge by God him self that if you are really truthful then get some thing like Quran if not the whole Quran, then only try one verse.

    • I3VI5 December 10, 2012, 7:29 AM

      What you’re doing is as much of a waste of time as advertising tampons to a group of old men. You’re promoting your precious quran to the wrong crowd!

      P.S. By the way, sorry to break it to you, but are are an idiot. Wish there was a quick cure but…

      • Matías Niño December 10, 2012, 6:51 PM

        Sara might be naive for offering religious texts in a scientific forum, but at least she’s not a Grade-A douchebag like you are.

        • I3VI5 December 12, 2012, 4:47 AM

          I don’t think “naive” was the word you were looking for.

  • Prism2Spectrum December 12, 2012, 3:42 PM

    “ ‘Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available … a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose’ – Fred Hoyle, 1948.” (opening line) _________________________________________

    A powerful new idea matured, yet born of ancient concept: One Sun-orbiting World, – a Life-encircled Globe, ringed in Time, – suspended on nothing, in boundless darkness of immeasurable Space. Mankind’s Homeworld! Could any words electrify that ancient concept like an eyewitness view of personal experience, with illuminating insights, and intimate thoughts of personal testimony, as in this well-crafted “Overview”.

    What privilege those few terrestrial men and women have known, to have seen Earth weightlessly, far-above the clouds of a Living Planet’s enclosing firmament. To have looked down with an angel’s perspective on a Family Home, under fixed-constellations of starry heavens flown.

    Thanks for sharing a stirring, enlightening video.

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