Kepler's Selfie from Outer Space

Yesterday I received a picture that I've been waiting for over 2 years to see! I posted a longer article about this image in late November, but in short: as part of the normal operations for the Kepler space telescope's "K2" mission, the Earth was going to be in the field of view for a few days in January! Erin Ryan and I petitioned NASA (i.e. wrote an observing proposal) for them to capture this moment as an iconic image that symbolizes the entire Kepler mission. Though we weren't funded, NASA agreed to take the image!

For you data nerds out there, you can play with this image too. Warning: the entire image is over 400mb (it's a monster digital camera), and it's still in a very raw form. The Kepler GO office put a smaller file up here, which only contains the channel with the Earth on it, and Geert Barentsen tweeted how to make your own version of the image in Python!

I have a TON more to say about this image, what it means to me personally, why it's technically interesting, and why I think it's valuable... but for now, here's another installment of my Astro Vlog featuring the Kepler Selfie:



If you're digging these videos showing life as an astronomer, be sure to support me and subscribe on YouTube! I have a LOT of science trips planed this spring/summer, and am looking forward to bringing my camera (and you all) along for the ride.

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