"....you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. ...every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there - on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. ... Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
#3: Pale Blue Dot
“Pale Blue Dot” was taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft, showing the earth against the backdrop of the Solar System. A book of the same name by astronomer Carl Sagan was inspired by the photo. The photo also inspired Carl Sagan’s famous thoughts given at a commencement address given on May 11, 1996:
#10: "Jane Chum" Ghost Photo
Many consider this to be the greatest ghost photo ever taken (although some may debate this). It was captured over 10 years ago in Shropshire, England. Town resident Tony O’Rahilly used a telephoto lens on his camera to capture many images of Wem Town Hall being destroyed by a fire. Upon developing the photos, Tony was shocked to see what looked like a small girl standing in a doorway. It turns out that in 1677, a devastating fire destroyed much of Wem’s wooden buildings. The fire was rumored to have been accidentally started by a 14 year-old girl named Jane Chum, who tragically died in the fire. Her ghost is said to still haunt the town.
#9: "Afghan Girl"
“Afghan Girl” is easily the most recognized National Geographic photo ever (It appeared on the June 1985 cover of the magazine). Her piercing, green eyes staring intently into the camera became a symbol of the conflict in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, and the plight of refugees from around the world. It wasn’t until 2002 that “Gula” was finally located, still living in Afghanistan. She remembered being photographed, but had no idea just how famous her portrait had become.
#8 Oldest Surviving Photo
This photo makes the list, simply because it is the earliest known permanent photograph to exist. It was taken by French inventor Nicephore Niepce in 1826.
#6: Baby In Womb
For many years, this picture was considered the very symbol of humanity, and is still one of Life Magazine’s most famous photos. The fetus was one of the first ever photographed with an endoscope, taken by Lennart Nilsson in 1965.
#5: "Pillars Of Creation"
Easily one of the most beautiful photos ever, “Pillars Of Creation” was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on April 1, 1995. It is a giant nebula over 7,000 light years away from Earth, that acts as a “stellar nursery” for new stars. The “pillars” are massive clouds of hydrogen gas and dust illuminated by nearby newborn stars. Just about everyone in the world would recognize this photo, although some may not be exactly sure what it is!
#7: Iwo Jima Flag Raising
“Raising The Flag On Iwo Jima” is an inspiring photo taken by Joe Rosenthal on February 23, 1945. The photograph depicts five U.S. marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raising the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima during World War 2. The Pulitzer Prize winning photo is easily the most recognizable image of the war, and one of the most reproduced photographs ever.
#4: First Flight
This photo is extraordinary because it captures the exact moment in time that man first took to the skies in flight, even if it was for only 12 seconds. Orville and Wilbur Wright, two bicycle mechanics from Ohio, made history that day, December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In the words of Orville Wright:
"This flight lasted only 12 seconds, but it was nevertheless the first in the history of the world in which a machine carrying a man had raised itself by its own power into the air in full flight, had sailed forward without reduction of speed, and had finally landed at a point as high as that from which it started."
#1: The Universe
This image depicts the deepest photo of the visible universe thus far in history, released by NASA on in March of 2004. This view is composed of two separate images taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, and the Near Infrared and Multi-Object Spectrometer. It reveals the first galaxies to emerge shortly after the big bang (400-800 million years, short in astronomical terms) when the first stars reheated the cold and dark universe. The image contains over 10,000 galaxies, of varying shapes, sizes, and colors.
#2 The Blue Marble
“The Blue Marble” was taken by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft on December 7, 1972, about 28,000 miles from Earth. The astronauts had the sun behind them when they took this image, and it is one of the few images in existence that shows a fully lit Earth. The astronauts noted that the Earth from this distance resembled a child’s glass marble (hence the name). Many see the image as a personification of the Earth’s isolation and vulnerability. It is the most widely distributed image in human history.
What makes a great photograph one of the greatest photographs ever taken? It can simply be their familiarity with ordinary people from around the world, its impact or ability to encapsulate a specific event or period in history, its rare or innovative qualities, the fact it is the best of its genre, or a combination of all these factors. Here now, are the top 10 greatest photos ever taken (you can click on each photo for a larger view):
Earth Rising, Napalm Girl from Vietnam, JFK Jr. Salute, "The Kiss" From VJ Day, "Tank Man" aka "The Unknown Rebel" from Tiananmen Square, Kent State Demonstration, Loch Ness Monster, Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill at Yalta, Hitler in Paris.
Top 10 Greatest Photographs Ever Taken:
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