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The Crescent Neptune

November 3rd, 2012

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from a reporter related to a story that will feature favorite space photos:

We’re hoping some space-themed photo comes to mind, either a picture taken by a space telescope, or by yourself from your own backyard, or anything else that relates to space. We’d also welcome any comments about the photo’s meaning to you.

I think my favorite space photo is the Voyager image of the crescent Neptune and Triton.

For two reasons. First, there’s no false color, no artifice, no agenda. This photograph is calming, mysterious and aesthetically perfect.

Second, the image is dominated by the night side of Neptune. Implicit in the photograph is the amazing fact that it was taken from a vantage that was further than the Sun than the planets. Less than one Neptune orbit elapsed between its discovery in 1846 and the Voyager flyby in 1989. A crescent Neptune seems to me far more subtly profound than the iconic “pale blue dot” image taken by the same spacecraft not all that long thereafter.

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  1. November 8th, 2012 at 09:05 | #1

    This IS a great photo… Before I’d finished reading this article ‘pale blue dot’ also flashed through my mind. My candidate would be the Cassini view of the Earth seen through Saturn’s rings, visible just outside the main ring system. Frankly I never thought our home planet could be seen (so well) from this distance.

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