Have you heard of the overview effect?
When astronauts went into space, something strange happened: They couldn't stop staring back at our planet.
They called it "Earth-gazing."
Even though they were in the midst of one of the biggest feats of our species, they found themselves more connected to their place back home.
Seeing Earth in its entirety somehow didn't make them feel insignificant but gave them a feeling of awe and care.
It was so powerful, a term was coined: the "overview effect."
Astronauts say this experience not only changed their perspective, but the very core of their attitudes as they think of the future of our planet. Some considered it to be even more important than their original mission.
“When we originally went to the moon, our total focus was on the moon. We weren't thinking about looking back at the Earth. But now that we've done it, that may well have been the most important reason we went."— Overview Institute co-founder David Beaver, retelling what one astronaut has said
Listening to these astronauts recount their experiences and how it changed them gave me goosebumps. Come for their thoughts, stay for the spectacular shots of Earth:
Coolest part, though? The overview effect can happen to you.
Concentrate on the following photo and ask yourself: What do you see?
They say that the photograph of our "big blue marble" has had a huge effect on how we think of our relationship to the world around us already. When you look at Earth from the sky, you do not see borders or nations or divisions or conflicts. You see a fragile-yet-strong miracle and a main objective becomes clear: to care for this wonderful, rare thing. And according to the overview effect, that can make a real difference in the world.
But how? Thankfully, they're coming out with a whole feature documentary that explores this further.
Are you ready for a dash of "awe" in your day?
Check out this trailer for the new documentary "Planetary," which talks about how we non-spacemen can tap into this overview effect. It features truly spectacular shots of our globe, both from within and from above. See if you can walk away unchanged.
Share if you said "wow." (I did.)