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Photographers around the world looked up to the sky this past weekend to capture the "supermoon." This is the phenomenon when the moon makes its closest approach to Earth, appearing 30 percent brighter and about 14 percent larger than a typical full moon. It occurs about once every 14 months and is technically called a perigee full moon. At 221,823 miles from Earth, the supermoon was a feast for the eyes.-Leanne Burden Seidel (24 photos total)
A cotton candy vendor walks in from of the moon during the Los Angeles Angels' baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, June 22 in Anaheim, Calif. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)    

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This was a weekend of the Sun and Moon -- a coincidence of the summer solstice and the "Supermoon". Friday was the summer solstice (in the northern hemisphere), welcomed by humans for thousands of years as the longest day of the year. In ancient times, people celebrated this day as the center point of summer. Some still observe the solstice with ceremonies and prayers, gathering on mountaintops or at spiritual landmarks. Over the weekend, skywatchers around the world were also treated to views of the so-called Supermoon, the largest full moon of the year. On Sunday, the moon approached within 357,000 km (222,000 mi) of Earth, in what is called a perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system (perigee: closest point of an elliptical orbit; syzygy: straight line made of three bodies in a gravitational system). Photographers across the globe set out to capture both events, and collected here are 24 images of our two most-visible celestial neighbors. [24 photos]

The largest full moon of 2013, a "supermoon" scientifically known as a "perigee moon", rises over the Tien Shan mountains and the monument to 18th century military commander Nauryzbai Batyr near the town of Kaskelen, some 23 km (14 mi) west of Almaty, Kazakhstan, on June 23, 2013. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov)     

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There were a lot of things that launched the environmental movement 40-some years ago—the pea-soup shroud of smog that used to hang over L.A., the sight of Ohio’s Cuyahoga River on fire. But nothing quite matched the power of the pictures beamed back to Earth by the Apollo astronauts on their way to the moon. We’d been seeing our home planet from low-Earth orbit for a number of years by then. What was always missing were human eyes that got far enough away so that the planet’s entire, 360-degree face fit into frame. Once we had that perspective, we saw our world anew: a tiny, fragile bauble in an infinity of blackness, something manifestly worth taking better care of.

Of all the pictures shot on all the moon trips, it was an image from the final one—Apollo 17—that made the greatest cultural impression. Dubbed ”Blue Marble,” the picture which mission records suggest was taken by lunar module pilot Jack Schmitt) shows Africa and the Middle East, largely unobscured by clouds, from a distance of 28,000 miles (45,000 km).

Now, NASA has recreated the picture, without getting any farther than 581 miles (931 km) away, thanks to the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Satellite (Suomi NPP), which orbits the planet pole-to-pole rather than east to west. The relatively low altitude (compared to the Apollos at least) would make a full planetary profile impossible, but the ship was able to capture different high-def swatches of the planet and knit them together
into a single image. To capture that shot for real, a spacecraft would have to be 7,918 miles (12,743 km) away. While the satellite has never journeyed nearly so far, it did do Apollo 17 one better, taking portrait-quality images of both Earthly hemispheres, including North America. Somewhere down there, too tiny to see, is an L.A. with relatively clear skies and a Cuyahoga River now largely free of filth—and entirely free of flame. Sometimes it just takes a good look at ourselves to make us behave a whole lot better.

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The lunar new year is celebrated throughout the world, but especially in Asia when the lunisolar calendar ticks off a new cycle. This year is the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese zodiac, and is viewed as very auspicious. In China, the holiday is known as 春节, the Spring Festival, and kicks off 15 days of celebration. It also triggers the largest human migration in the world, as hundreds of millions of Chinese trek to see families. Gathered here are images of the preparation for the holiday, the travel scene in mainland China, and celebrations in many parts of the world. 新年快乐! -- Lane Turner/雷恩 (38 photos total)
Chinese folk artists perform the lion dance at a temple fair to celebrate the Lunar New Year on January 22, 2012 in Beijing. Also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar calendar, it is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with the Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

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