Images of our closest planet.

Earth of course.  We couldn’t be much closer if we tried.  And you thought it was going to be Venus, Mars or Mercury.

What's that dark spot on planet Earth? It's the shadow of the moon

A lovely view of Earth, with a Moon shadow in the north.  (Not to be confused with Moon Shadow by Cat Stevens).

Our planet is very interesting to say the least.  Luckily for us, we know almost as much about our planet as we do about the other planets in the Solar system.  In fact, in some respects we don’t know as much about our planet as we do others.

Why is that you ask?

Most of the planet is covered in water.  It really seems like a lot of water until you put it into perspective.

(1) All water (sphere over western U.S., 860 miles in diameter)
(2) Fresh liquid water in the ground, lakes, swamps, and rivers (sphere over Kentucky, 169.5 miles in diameter), and
(3) Fresh-water lakes and rivers (sphere over Georgia, 34.9 miles in diameter).
Credit: Howard Perlman, USGS; globe illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (©); Adam Nieman.

The picture above from the USGS shows how much water of various kinds are one our planet. It doesn’t look like much now, does it?  But, it does make the planet very nice to live on.

Lake Erie. Though Lake Erie looks beautiful in this image, the green swirls in the water are evidence of the worst toxic algae bloom the lake has suffered in decades. Image taken by Landsat 5 on October 5, 2011. (Photo by USGS/NASA)

An image of Lake Eerie in North America.

Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar. The Mergui Archipelago in the Andaman Sea consists of more than 800 islands. This natural-color image of the center portion of the archipelago was captured by Landsat 5 on December 14, 2004. (Photo by USGS/NASA)

The beautifully blue and green Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar.

Erg Iguidi, Algeria. What look like pale yellow paint streaks slashing through a mosaic of mottled colors are ridges of wind-blown sand that make up Erg Iguidi, an area of ever-shifting sand dunes extending from Algeria into Mauritania in northwestern Africa. Erg Iguidi is one of several Saharan ergs, or sand seas, where individual dunes often surpass 500 meters – nearly one-third of a mile – in both width and height. Image taken by Landsat 5 on April 8, 1985. (Photo by USGS/NASA)

The pale yellow streaks are ridges of sand that make up Erg Iguidi in Algeria. Some of the dunes surpass 500 meters, nearly 1/3 of a mile, in both width and height.

Typhoon Bopha moves toward the Philippines, observed from the ISS, on December 2, 2012. (Photo by AP Photo/NASA/The Atlantic)

An angry planet sometimes, this is an image of Typhoon Bopha covering a lot of the earth as it heads toward landfall in the Philippines in 2012.

Dasht-e Kavir, Iran. The Dasht-e Kavir, or Great Salt Desert, is the larger of Iran's two major deserts, which occupy most of the country's central plateau. Located in north-central Iran, the mostly uninhabited desert is about 800km long and 320km wide. Once situated beneath an ancient inland sea, the arid region is now covered with salt deposits and is known for its salt marshes (kavirs), which can act like quicksand. From wild sheep and leopards to gazelles and lizards, there is a range of wildlife in the mountainous areas and parts of the steppe and desert areas of the central plateau. This 2000 Landsat 7 image shows the intricately folded sediments and colourful formations that now blanket the surface of this barren landscape. (Photo by NASA/GSFC/USGS EROS Data Center)

The Dasht-e Kavir, or Great Salt Desert, in Iran.  The most uninhabited area of the planet (that we know of).

Natural selection at its best.  Please review the Darwin Awards for a complete list.

The Milky Way above the telescopes

Today, we took a look down on our planet, but take the opportunity every once and a while to look up into the night sky.  There are some pretty amazing things up there as well.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +