SOLSTICE SUNSET: On Dec. 21st, the northern winter solstice, Lauri Kangas of Ontario, Canada, watched the sun disappear into the longest night of the year. "I'm glad the world didn't end yesterday as it was a beautiful view!" he says.
Contrary to mistaken reports of a Maya doom-prophecy, the sun came back up again today, Dec. 22nd, the first day of the 14th Bak'tun on the Maya Long Count Calendar and the first day of northern winter 2012.
The STEREO probes have two wider-field heliospheric imagers, too: HI2-A and HI2-B. Earth has been visible in the HI2 telescopes since launch in 2007, but this is the first time our planet has been visible in either of the HI1 telescopes, which can see regions of space closer to the sun. This development will give researchers a better view of solar storms engulfing Earth and could lead to improvements in space weather forecasting.