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Today, November 9, 2014, Carl Sagan would have turned 80, no longer a surprising age. Instead, he died at a relatively young 62, a victim of myelodysplasia. An accomplished astronomer, science popularizer, and Pulitzer Prize winner, he was, and is, a hero of mine. On YouTube, there is a small cottage industry of video accompaniments to the beautiful narration taken from his book, Pale Blue Dot. Below is mine. The voice is Dr. Sagan’s.

Dr. Sagan was a professor of astronomy at Cornell University, which tells you almost nothing.  He was an effective advocate for planetary study and the monitoring of space for extraterrestrial life who had a profound impact on NASA programs. He was best known for co-writing and hosting Cosmos, the most watched series in public television history. The follow-up book of the same name stayed on The New York Times bestseller list for 70 weeks. Ann Druyan, his wife and collaborator, wrote me in April 2009, “The Carl you admire was absolutely authentic. Up close, he was infinitely greater.”

More on Dr. Sagan here.