Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Sophia Bush’s new tattoo has a fascinatingly deep meaning behind it


Sophia Bush recently turned 35, and headed to celebrity tattoo artist Dr Woo to mark the occasion. She posted photos of the process on her Instagram stories – and her chosen ink has a fascinating meaning.

The actress’ minimalist starburst design appears to have been inspired by the cover of the Voyager Golden Record, a phonograph recording launched into space 40 years ago.

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were robotic probes sent to study the outer Solar System in 1977. Inside each spacecraft was a basic self-assembly record player and a gold-plated copper disc containing sounds and images from Earth.

The contents of the Golden Records were selected for NASA by the late astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan, and were intended to depict our planet’s life and culture to any extra-terrestrial life forms who might encounter them.

Read more: 50 beautiful minimalist and tiny tattoos

“The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilisations in interstellar space,” said Sagan at the time. “But the launching of this ‘bottle’ into the cosmic ‘ocean’ says something very hopeful about life on this planet.”


Sophia Bush's Instagram story showing her tattoo design, left; and right, the cover of the 'Sounds Of Earth' record placed on the Voyagers 1 And 2 spacecrafts in 1977.

The Golden Records featured natural sounds, such as surf, wind, thunder and animals (such as whale and birdsong), plus greetings in 55 ancient and modern languages.

The inspirational message Per aspera ad astra – “Through hardships to the stars” – appeared in Morse code on each disc, while music by artists including Chuck Berry, Mozart and Azerbaijani oboist Kamil Jalilov was also included.

Read more: 30 beautiful constellation and astronomy ear piercings

Images on the Golden Record included scientific diagrams, such as those of the Solar System and human anatomy, and photos of people from a wide range of cultures, as well as animals, food, landscapes, plants and architecture.

“This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings,” wrote US President Jimmy Carter in a message on the disc.

“We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.”


From L-R: late astrophysicist Carl Sagan; Sophia Bush's Instagram story showing her Sagan-inspired tattoo; Sophia Bush.

In case we were in any doubt as to the inspiration for Bush’s tattoo, the One Tree Hill and Chicago PD star included the words “Pale blue dot” on another of her Instagram stories – a reference, as Samantha Sasso at Refinery29 points out, to Sagan’s book of the same name.

The Sagan-inspired starburst tattoo is Bush’s second. Her first, inked in 2013, is a small equal sign on her ring finger – a mark of solidarity in the fight for same-sex marriage in the US.

Images: Rex Features / instagram.com/sophiabush


tattoos confidence.jpg

“How getting tattoos helped me overcome my perception of my body”

sophia bush.jpg

Sophia Bush pens powerful open letter to man who harassed her on plane


Why you've been reading the wrong star sign all this time


All the best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From a star-studded dinner party to Serena Williams’ sweet mother-daughter snap

by Nicola Colyer
22 Sep 2017

Justin Trudeau reveals his surprising feminist inspiration

Bromance brewing?

by Susan Devaney
21 Sep 2017

Some people only just realised that Rihanna’s real name isn’t Rihanna

Erm, did we not all know this already?

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Sep 2017

This is how Salma Hayek is helping Mexico’s earthquake victims

And how you can too

by Moya Crockett
21 Sep 2017

Emma Stone's childhood drawing of her anxiety is so relatable

“I’m bigger than my anxiety”

by Susan Devaney
21 Sep 2017

Twitter was not impressed by Melania Trump’s anti-bullying UN speech

“If Melania Trump really wants to fight cyberbullying, she should just change Donald's WiFi password.”

by Moya Crockett
21 Sep 2017

8-year-old bug enthusiast defies bullies to co-author scientific paper

Sophia Spencer was mocked for her love of bugs – but she’s now a published expert

by Moya Crockett
20 Sep 2017

Shania Twain is touring the UK: here’s everything you need to know

2018 is shaping up nicely

by Amy Swales
20 Sep 2017

Why Avril Lavigne is the ‘most dangerous’ celebrity to search online

Think twice before clicking on that link.

by Moya Crockett
20 Sep 2017

Serena Williams writes an emotional open letter to her mother

“You are one of the strongest women I know”

by Susan Devaney
20 Sep 2017