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Watch the Milky Way spin

The International Space Station's crew has been sending down tons of stunning imagery of the planet below, but the main appeal of this video goes in a different direction — toward the gorgeous galaxy right above our heads.

The time-lapse video is based on pictures taken on Dec. 29 while the space station sailed high above Africa, crossing over to the South Indian Ocean. You can make out the flashes of lightning storms, and if you look very closely you can see the long streak of Comet Lovejoy against the backdrop of the Milky Way. The best frame for seeing the comet comes around the 12-second mark in the 23-second clip displayed above. If you need help spotting it, play this YouTube alternative. Here's the HD version from NASA.

To see the latest and greatest time-lapse and still imagery from the International Space Station's vantage point, check out NASA's Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth (and particularly the video page). For still more, you'll want to keep tabs on the Fragile Oasis Facebook page as well as NASA astronaut Ron Garan's Google+ page.

More views of Earth from space:


Tip o' the Log to Jason Major, who watches over Lights in the Dark.

Alan Boyle is msnbc.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter or adding Cosmic Log's Google+ page to your circle. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for other worlds.