Happy Carl Sagan Day, and Happy 35th, Voyagers!

November 9, 2012

Carl Sagan was a Professor of Astronomy and Space Science and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, but most of us know him as a Pulitzer Prize winning author, the creator of the groundbreaking PBS series, COSMOS, and a tireless advocate for science and reason.
Carl Sagan

Sagan was that rarest of individuals. He was a scientist and researcher who was also adept at communicating scientific ideas to the general public. He was an example of how to blend healthy skepticism with a child-like sense of wonder.  He was a teacher who routinely disproved the unfounded and often dangerous beliefs of his fellow humans without ever losing his belief in humankind.

Today, on what would have been his 78th birthday, thousands of people around the world are taking time out from their normal routine to pay tribute to Sagan, revisit his meaningful work, and revel in the cosmos he helped us discover and understand.

Check our Carl Sagan Day Event Calendar for activities near you!

How can you celebrate Sagan Day?

Whether you’re an independent skeptics group, an astronomy club, a science department, a researcher, a teacher, a student, or just a really big Sagan fan, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Sagan Day:

  • Host a COSMOS marathon—all 13 episodes are available for free at hulu.com.
  • Check out Sagan’s many books at your local library or bookstore using the thorough listings from WorldCat.org.
  • Enjoy the special collection of articles by or about Sagan, previously published in Skeptical Inquirer magazine.
  • Listen to Sagan’s last public address for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly CSICOP) as replayed on CFI’s podcast, Point of Inquiry: “Wonder and Skepticism.”
  • Listen to Ann Druyan, writer, producer, and widow of Sagan, discuss life with Carl, his outlook on life, and his famous Gifford Lectures, “The Varieties of Scientific Experience,” also on Point of Inquiry.
  • Host your own apple pie baking contest (from scratch, of course).
  • Dress like Carl for a day!
  • Refresh your skeptic skills with a review of Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit.
  • Invite your friends over and try to convince them you have a dragon in your garage.
  • Take in a star show at your local planetarium.
  • Snag a pair of these gorgeous Pale Blue Dot earrings and coasters from Surly Amy!
  • Learn everything there is to know about Voyager 1 and 2.
  • Remember how thrilled you were when you saw the first stunning images from Voyager and go revel in these gorgeous NASA Voyager galleries.
  • See where the Voyager probes are now! (Yes, incredibly, they are still working and sending back data from over 15 billion kilometers away.)
  • At the very least, seek out a dark sky, look UP, and reconnect with the grandeur of the cosmos.

EXTRA: Celebrate the 35th anniversary of the launch of the Voyager probes

Voyager ProbeSagan worked on many of NASA’s robotic spacecraft missions, but perhaps his most enduring contribution was to develop and assemble the Voyager Golden Record that was sent out with each of the two Voyager probes in 1977.

Sagan’s idea was to design a phonograph record to carry the sounds and images of life and culture on Earth to the depths of space where, hopefully, another advanced spacefaring civilization might find it.

The golden record cover—what has become an iconic image—contains the instructions on how to play the record, plus a pulsar map to show where in the cosmos it came from, i.e., Earth.
Sagan’s enthusiasm for space and his visionary approach to science and science education have inspired millions of people in countless ways, and that is why we take time to honor him, remember his work, and revel in the cosmos he helped us understand.

Carl Sagan Day 2012 Commemorative Posters

This year’s Carl Sagan Day poster is a tribute to the Voyager Golden Record. The high-quality design is available online for FREE, so download the PDF and print as many posters as you like.

Additionally, the responses to last year’s poster were so positive we decided to modify it for this year and keep it available to fans and Sagan Day event organizers. Each of these 11x17 posters has the same basic design, but we made three versions, each featuring a different Sagan quote.

Carl Sagan Day Posters

Happy Sagan Day!

And thank you, Carl! 


Very special thanks to Ann Druyan and Druyan-Sagan Associates, Inc., for their gracious permission to use images and content from COSMOS, and for making it possible for so many CFI branches and campus groups to screen COSMOS for this special occasion. Learn more about Cosmos Studios at the Carl Sagan Portal.

COSMOS imagery and logo copyright © 1980 Druyan-Sagan Associates, Inc. formerly known as Carl Sagan Productions, Inc., courtesy Ann Druyan.  For more information about CFI or Carl Sagan Day, please visit carlsaganday.org or email grassroots@centerforinquiry.net.

Additional images courtesy of NASA.


Voyager Imagery