A common pastime at my primary school was collecting and swapping scraps – die-cut paper images. Scraps were stored between the pages of a book, either individually or in a set, a collection of a single image in various sizes. At playtime, collectors would swap scrap books and thumb through the pages, poking scraps of interest out of the top of the book before beginning the trade negotiations. Simple pleasures.
The book featured is “Sidereus Nuncius” (Starry Messenger or Message), a scientific treatise by Galileo Galilei, based on observations he made through a telescope. The Latin word nuncius was used to denote ‘messenger’, as well as (less frequently) ‘message’. Galileo himself indicated that the purpose of the book was “simply to report the news about recent developments in astronomy”, not to suggest he was an ambassador for heaven. The English word ‘angel’ is derived from the Greek ‘angelos’, meaning messenger.
The image features a radio telescope and NASA’s Voyager space probe. The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft were launched in 1977 to explore Jupiter and Saturn. Their mission was extended. Voyager 2 went on to explore Uranus and Neptune and, in August 2012, Voyager 1 entered interstellar space. Both spacecraft continue to send scientific information about their surroundings.
Image 35cm x 35cm
Billions of years from now our sun, then a distended red giant star, will have reduced Earth to a charred cinder. But the Voyager record will still be largely intact, in some other remote region of the Milky Way galaxy, preserving a murmur of an ancient civilization that once flourished — perhaps before moving on to greater deeds and other worlds — on the distant planet Earth.
― carl sagan