Lovely Short Animation about Voyager, Stardust, and Being Part of the Universe

The entire universe in blog form
Feb. 3 2013 8:00 AM

Voyager into Stardust

I love the intersection of science and art, since there is great beauty in science, and fundamental reality in art.

Filmmaker Mischa Rozema created a short animation called “Stardust”, using the Voyager 1 probe—currently edging its way into interstellar space—as a jumping-off point to visually explore the idea that we are star dust, and into star dust we will someday return. It’s really quite lovely.

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The shots of the Sun are amazing, and reminded me somewhat of the movie “Sunshine”, when the crew of a spaceship all take a few minutes to watch the silhouette of Mercury transit the Sun’s face (a very moving and key scene in the movie). The music is beautiful, too.

Voyager 1 space probe
Illustration of the Voyager 1 spacecraft, currently a staggering 18.5 billion kilometers from Earth.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The mix of atoms in our world and in our bodies is a reflection of impurities in the cloud of gas and dust that collapsed 4.6 billion years ago to form the solar system. Those elements were in large part created in the hearts of mighty exploding stars, and eventually found their way into us. Whether the human race spreads to the stars, or we remain on Earth and the crust of our planet is blasted away into space when the Sun swells into a red giant…either way, our supernovae-forged atoms will be cast back out into the galaxy that created them.

Some may not find comfort in that, but there is still a remarkable poetry in it.

Tip o’ the heliopause to Tim Farley.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!