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James W. Cadle’s Earth flag

“Flag of Earth”

Last modified: 2019-08-06 by rob raeside
Keywords: earth | proposal | cadle (james w.) | flag of earth | seti | astronomy | disc (white) | disc (blue) | moon: disc | sun: corner |
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James W. Cadle’s Earth flag image by A.H., 19 Oct 1999
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History of the flag

The “flag of Earth” was designed by an Illinois farmer named James Cadle shortly after the first manned landing on the moon in 1969. The intent was to create a flag for the planet Earth that represented us all as passengers on spaceship Earth, and (instead of using a NASA photo as many others had done) create a flag that could be made readily in bunting. We used to make these flags at Paramount Flag Co, in the 1970’s and 1980’s they were purchased mostly by astronomers where the flag apparently became quite popular. It has been flown all over the globe, including the former Soviet Union at observatories. They were also popular with SETI.
James Ferrigan, 19 Oct 1999

It was first flown from a rural power pole Mr. Cadle climbed up on May 17, 1970. There is a photo of his original power pole flag flying on the site. The creator relinquished his copyright on Nov. 1, 2003, though he still sells it through his Flag of Earth Company International.
Richard Knipel, 18 Jul 2004

The flag flies from several locations where the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has operations. The earth object stretches nearer the upper and lower borders and in a light blue; the moon object in the lower fly.
Phil Nelson, 19 Oct 1999

This Flag of Earth was created in 1970 with the idea that all the nations of the world have unity in the earth. Rapid developments brought on by rapid communications have created a need to have pride and love for our earth as well as our town and our country. It is a flag for all nations and yet a flag of no nation. The flag’s design is significant. Its colors come from the yellow sun, the blue of earth as it appears from a distance, and the single white moon in the blackness of space. […] There are no rules to observe in displaying the Flag of Earth. It is meant to fly at any time, in any weather, for any reason […] The Flag of Earth and the Flag of Earth Co. International have no political, cultural or geographical affiliations, and no financial support other than the company’s own revenues.
Dave Martucci, 17 Nov 1996, quoting Flag of Earth Co. International

I spotted this SETI League editorial announcing that from Nov. 1, 2003 upwards, the flag is in the public domain.
Jan Mertens, 29 Dec 2003

A message from Dr. Robert Dixon the Director of the OSU SETI Program from December 23, 1996 (available on line):

In honor of Carl Sagan’s death, the Flag of Earth at the Ohio State University Radio Observatory has been lowered to half staff. The Flag of Earth is flown at all observatories around the world engaged in the search for life outside the Earth. This flag is used worldwide for all activities done on behalf of humankind as a whole, not related to any specific individual, organization or country. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence is one such activity, and the OSU Radio Observatory is the location of the longest-running search on Earth. The Flag of Earth has flown there for many years.
Richard Knipel, 18 Jul 2004

Description of the flag

It’s an interesting astronomical design to signify the Earth and Moon in relationship to the sun. But heraldically speaking, it could use some work.
Chris Pinette, 19 Oct 1999

I think that the dimensions of the three objects are calculated from the relative dimensions (diameter) of the Sun (yellow), Earth (blue) and Moon (white), the visible sun being just a little arc of a much larger circle.
Jorge Candeias, 21 Oct 1999

Though an attempt is made to show this size difference, the sun is in fact so much larger than the Earth that to be accurately represented on this flag we would need a straight line. A little humbling. However, the diameter ratio between the Earth and Moon seems to be relatively accurate.
Richard Knipel, 18 Jul 2004