Portrait of the Solar System (Family Portrait)


Senior Member
May 25, 2010
Reaction score
Its been a while since I have seen these pictures but every time I see them, it makes you realize how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of the Universe.

The Family Portrait, or Portrait of the Planets is an image of the Solar System taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft on February 14, 1990. The picture is a mosaic of 60 individual frames. They were the last pictures taken by either Voyager spacecraft. It is the source of the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of the Earth. Astronomer Carl Sagan, who was part of the Voyager imaging team, campaigned for many years to have the pictures taken.
The images were shot from a distance of about 6 billion kilometres (about 4 billion miles) and an angle of 32° above the ecliptic plane. Of the two Voyager spacecraft, Voyager 1 was chosen for the family portrait because its flightpath had taken it out towards the Solar System's north pole and thus, unlike its sister, Voyager 2, it was in a position to view Jupiter free from the Sun's glare.
Seven celestial bodies are visible in the mosaic. They are, from right to left: Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, the Sun, Venus, Earth and Jupiter. Mars and Mercury were too small to resolve at this scale. Earth itself was almost lost in a diffraction ray.
The image does not have a natural look. This is because the individual photographs were taken at varying exposures and through various filters to bring out as much detail as possible. The Sun was taken with the darkest filter and the shortest exposure to avoid damage to the craft's vidicon tube. The majority of the images are wide-angle, but the close-ups of the planets themselves (seen alongside) are narrow-angle images.

Full Size Image of the Voyager 1 Portrait of the Solar System

Diagram of the Portrait


Pale Blue Dot: Earth from the edge of the Solar System

In the Original Picture, Earth is smaller than a full pixel. Earth is that little blue/white dot on right side of the image. Furthest Image of Earth ever taken.

Voyager Space Crafts 1 & 2
As of April 12, 2010, Voyager 1 was about 113.158 AU (16.928 billion km, or 10.518 billion miles) or 0.0018 light-year from the Sun. It is currently travelling at 17.07 km/s, or 61,452 kilometres per hour (38,185 mph). This calculates as 3.6 AU per year, about 10% faster than Voyager 2.....

As of April 13, 2010, Voyager 2 was at a distance of around 91.898 AU (13.747 billion km, 8.542 billion miles, or 0.001443 ly) from the Sun, deep in the scattered disc, and traveling outward at roughly 3.264 AU per year. [10] It is more than twice as far from the Sun as Pluto, and far beyond the perihelion of 90377 Sedna, but not yet beyond the outer limits of the orbit of the dwarf planet Eris.

As of May 2010, Voyager 2 is 92 AU from the Sun, at −54.59° declination and 19.733 h right ascension, placing it in the constellation Telescopium as observed from Earth.

1 AU = roughly 93 million miles (Distance from Earth to the Sun)

These are the furthest Man Made objects in space from Earth.

Cool stuff.


  • ssportrait_vg1.jpg
    39.1 KB · Views: 15


Senior Member
Apr 18, 2010
Reaction score
And to think that it all works because of 170-odd elements and some basic rules. Amazing.


Senior Member
Dec 11, 2008
Reaction score
That is what I call Awesome, in the true meaning of the word.
Makes me think about Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, what humans don't need is a sense of proportions.


Senior Member
May 16, 2010
Reaction score
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buqtdpuZxvk]YouTube - Galaxy Song[/ame]


V.I.P. Member
May 15, 2008
Reaction score
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSgiXGELjbc]YouTube - Carl Sagan - 'A Glorious Dawn' ft Stephen Hawking (Symphony of Science)[/ame]

Latest Threads