On July 19, the Cassini space probe will take an epic portrait of Saturn and its entire system. The sun will be positioned behind the planet, which will make for optimal lighting conditions for the space photo. But astute observers will notice that the immense Saturn system isn’t alone in the frame. When the snaps are taken, there will be a small, yet familiar blue ball in the background.
Yep, when the probe sets up its glamour shot of Saturn, there Earth will be — photo-bombing the pic. But unlike a drunken uncle stepping on his niece’s wedding dress in the family photo, this guest is totally welcome here. In fact, the timing and conditions have made for a rare opportunity to capture such a long-distance image of Earth in its entirety captured for posterity.
The first time it happened, the Voyager 1 caught the famous Pale Blue Dot in 1990. From the vantage point of 3.7 billion miles away, the Voyager 1 swung its mighty lens back at us and caught on film the most significant micro-speck of faint blue in the history of the world.
Likewise, Cassini will casts its gaze in our direction next month. At that point, it will be about 898 million miles away, meaning that the Voyager 1 still wins for the longest-distance Earth capture. However, since the Saturn probe is closer, at least our planet will figure a little more prominently in the shot this time around.