Happy Carl Sagan Day!

Caleb P.'s Carl Sagan jack-o-lantern [via Nick Sagan's blog]

In the 1980s, astronomy legend Carl Sagan achieved the impossible: he actually made science popular, thanks to Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, the epic TV series that's been subsequently viewed by a half-billion people (and counting) across the world. Today marks the first-ever Carl Sagan Day and celebrates the 75th anniversary of the astronomer's birth, a day on which the space geeks of our little planet will pay homage to the man who's helped us better understand what the rest of the universe is all about.

The official festivities kicked off at South Florida's Broward College, and include showings of the Cosmos series, magic shows, planetarium programs, and teacher workshops. A host of speakers are also slated to appear, including "Bad Astronomer" Phil Plait and stage magician James Randi, who's built a career on skepticism toward paranormal activity. His appearance makes sense, considering Sagan's reputation as a fervent skeptic of anything associated with the slightest hint of voodoo. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," Sagan once proclaimed.

The events of the first annual Carl Sagan Day reflect Sagan's underlying goals of making science (in particular, an understanding of the basic principles of outer space) accessible to all.  "Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works," he said. And our species, in the context of how the world works, was an enormous aspect of Sagan's intellectual pursuits. A deep analysis of the human race's role in the universe is given in Cosmos, with an emphasis on the idea that earth is essentially insignificant in the greater scheme of outer space. It was Sagan who famously coined the idea of earth as a mere "pale blue dot" and inspired the legendary photo of our planet from four billion miles away.

If you're in need of consolation for the fact that the first Carl Sagan Day festivities are happening about 1,500 miles south of Boston, comfort yourself with one of myriad Sagan dedications across the Web.

Take, for example, Sagan's posthumous auto-tuned single, "A Glorious Dawn, " will be released on Monday as a limited-edition vinyl. Chances are you've already seen this one, but you can watch it anew on -- through the refracted POV of a bug-eyed extraterrestrial, perhaps?

Or, if you've got nothing to do for the next couple of weeks, explore YouTube's endless homages, collages, and sly winks, like this samurai soundbite. (Or you could get your kicks by watching one of the human race's preeminent geniuses fail to cut an apple pie.)

There's even a spoof that dubs Sagan's voice over Agent Smith's in a scene from The Matrix.

But if you'd rather be a little more purist in your Sagan proclivities, a wealth of Cosmos-y goodness awaits at the Carl Sagan YouTube channel and Hulu's Cosmos archives.
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