Watch the Earth rise, from the moon
The Japanese research satellite Kaguya, now orbiting the moon, has sent back some remarkable movies showing the Earth rising over the lunar surface on Nov. 7. There are some other links from this page to other, very eerie movies taken as the satellite simply cruised above the barren moonscape. (When it asks you to install software for Japanese characters, just click on "cancel." You don't need them.)
These may be the first motion pictures we've seen of such things since the last Apollo astronauts returned from the moon in 1973. Credit goes to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Japan Broadcasting Agency.
The text accompanying the images reminded me of something I'd forgotten: Astronauts on the moon never see an Earthrise or Earthset. That's because the same side of the moon always faces the Earth. If you can see the Earth from where you are on the moon, that's pretty much where it will always be. It will go through moon-like phases, but it won't set unless you drive far from your base, and keep going until the big blue marble drops below the horizon.
Astronauts in orbit around the moon, of course, will see multiple Earthrises and Earthsets as they fly. And that's how Kaguya managed to get these videos.
But just look at that little orb rising above the lunar horizon. All life, all history that we know (aside from the spacecraft we've hurled off the planet) is contained on that speck. All our differences, all our hatreds, everything we love, everything we hope for in the future, rides on that same fragile sphere. And it is our life-support system. Screw it up, and we can't just pack and go home. That is home.
And here's yet another view of our planet, in true color, snapped last week by the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft during a swing past Earth en route to land on a comet.