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Sagan Celebration
Carl Sagan's Birthday

"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we've learned most of what we know. Recently, we've waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

– Excerpted from The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean,
Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980

In honor of Carl Sagan's birthday on November 9th, NASA’s Kepler Mission and the SETI Institute invited the public to submit writings inspired by the imagery that he created for us in his allegory of The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean. Essays have been submitted; it is now time to enjoy them. Finalists are all published on this site.

The Sagan Essay Contest Winner!

The Cosmic Tour Guide

By Renee James

Renee James photoRenee James is an associate professor in the Physics Department at Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA. She is an astronomy educator and science writer inspired by Carl Sagan.

Renee James' essay.

Special Guest

My Father

By Dorion Sagan

Dorian Sagan photoDorion Sagan is an award-winning American science writer, essayist and theorist. He is co-author or author of twenty-four books translated into eleven languages, including Death & Sex and Microcosmos. Death and Sex won first place at the 2010 New York Book Show in the general trade nonfiction category. His Into the Cool, co-authored with Eric D.Schneider, is about the relationship between non-equilibrium thermodynamics and life. His latest book, available electronically, is The Sciences of Avatar.

Sagan is the son of astronomer Carl Sagan and biologist Lynn Margulis.

Read Dorion Sagan's essay.

Essay Contest finalists

Guest Essays

Play music by Lyford Rome:

Those are the three sections of
"The Shore of the Cosmic Ocean,"
an original musical score written especially for this event.

All three sections in one piece:
The Shore of the Cosmic Ocean (mp3; 28 Mb).
The NExScI Sagan Day Page

Read reflections from Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellows at the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) on on how their research would appeal to Carl Sagan. NASA's Sagan Program was started in 2008 to help inspire and support the next generation of exoplanet researchers.

Share your thoughts about Carl Sagan's legacy
at the Kepler Facebook page