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The Profound Interconnection of Life – An Astronaut’s Perspective

the overview effect

In 1968, we went to the moon for the first time.  Mankind was eager to explore the surface of the moon, the stars and space.  But as it turns out, seeing the moon and stars up close was only half the reason to go.

For everyone watching – from the astronauts to the TV audience – seeing the Earth from a distance, dangling in space was perhaps the most important, monumental collective event that humanity had experienced.

This short film by Planetary Collective documents astronauts’ life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often described as the “Overview Effect.”

When you see our planet from a distance, just hanging there in space, that changes your perspective completely. The earth is one system, and you realize that we are all part of that system, and that there is a unity or coherence to it all.

The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.

Edgar Mitchell, one of the Apollo 14 astronauts appears in the film.  Because of his profound experience in going to space, he founded the The Institute of Noetic Sciences and has dedicated his life to “supporting individual and collective transformation… through consciousness research, and engaging a global learning community in the realization of our human potential.”

Watch full screen here :  OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.


We’ll leave you with two striking thoughts:

First, many wisdom traditions, from the Mayans to Native Americans and early Christianity have pointed to this interconnectedness (here called “overview effect”)  the unity, this oneness of all life was the way of life.  Today, we operate from a sense or feeling of separation in Western cultures. Yet this modern thinking is the exception.  In other cultures from the past and even in modern Eastern cultures, it has always been realized that the individual self, and the species as a whole, and all of life on this planet, are completely interconnected.

And lastly, seeing the Earth’s atmosphere from space reminds us that the fragility of our planet is supremely striking. This is an epic moment for our species to be reminded that we live on the most incredible, interconnected, pulsating, living, breathing planet – Earth; and we must take care of her.


It’s a basic understanding of who we are that is at stake.


This short film is a true gift for our time. Do you agree?


About: ‘Overview’ is a short film that explores this phenomenon through interviews with five astronauts who have experienced the Overview Effect. The film also features insights from commentators and thinkers on the wider implications and importance of this understanding for society, and our relationship to the environment. ‘Overview’ is a stand-alone short film, but also serves a prelude to Planetary Collective’s forthcoming feature documentary ‘Continuum’, due for release in 2013.


If you loved this as much as us, you’ll also enjoy this animated tribute to Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot.”


This article is dedicated to David Freeman, friend, neighbor, author and true alchemist who would have celebrated 52 trips around the sun today. Dave, let’s talk about this.