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Los Angeles photobombs Cassini's glamour shots of Earth


Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

On July 19, 2013, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will take a picture of Earth from about 898 million (1.44 billion kilometers) away, or nearly 10 times the distance between Earth and the sun. It will be the first time Earthlings have had advance notice that their picture will be taken from interplanetary distances. North America and part of the Atlantic Ocean are expected to be illuminated. This view is a close-up simulation.

All right NASA, I'm ready for my long-shot.

Earthlings have been waving their hands in the air because they very much care about a new series of planetary portraits being shot by the Cassini spacecraft (currently in orbit around Saturn), and the Messenger craft (currently circling Mercury).

NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory invited everyone to its interplanetary photo shoot, telling people to look skyward and wave as the outer space paparazzi moved into position on Friday. 

Around 2:30 p.m. Cassini snapped a photo of Earth as it appears between the rings of Saturn, from a distance of 898 million miles. At the time, North America was illuminated, but Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia will have their day in the sun with portraits taken by Messenger on Friday and Saturday.

The new images, which will take days to weeks to process, will be the first to capture Earth in its natural color, and show the planet as the human eye would see it from Saturn — as a tiny blue dot.

L.A. residents showed up for Cassini's casting call on Friday gathering on the lawn of the Griffith Observatory to do the "Saturn Wave."  Tonight at 8 p.m. there will be a viewing of Saturn through the observatory telescopes. 

Researchers say the snapshots of Earth are part of a larger plan to study Saturn's shimmering rings and search for moons around Mercury. 

Los Angeles would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that there are still stars back home waiting to be discovered. 

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