Cassini took a series of 141 images from a distance of about 750,000 miles from Saturn (three times the distance of the Earth from the Moon). The span of view is some 404,000 miles across looking back into infinite space. The Earth was about 900,000,000 miles away as this mosaic was captured. It was all the result of a rare opportunity for Cassini to photograph during a total eclipse of the Sun by Saturn.
The gorgeous stitched photograph features over a dozen celestial objects, including many of Saturn's smaller moons, as well as Mars, Venus, and our our own "pale blue dot." The resulting image is a HUGE 9000 x 3500 pixels in size. Viewing it fills me with wonder.
This is the result of The Day The Earth Smiled project, a fun endeavor which prompted thousands of human beings to pause this past July 19, wave and smile, in the general direction of Saturn about the time Cassini performed its maneuver. Since it was impossible for the probe to actually photograph us as individuals this is a rare moment for science to become playful along with the serious intent of the project.
And this was historic. This marks only the third time the Earth has been photographed from beyond the asteroid belt. Amazing panoramic stuff.
Some of the thousands of folks that took a moment to pause and wave at Cassini - somewhere out there in the general direction of Saturn, which was not visible at the time due to the bright sunshine lighting up all those smiles this past July.