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Skytree casts long shadow on Tokyo


The Tokyo Skytree rises 2,080 feet (634 meters) into the sky in a satellite picture acquired on April 4.

The Tokyo Skytree is considered the world's tallest broadcasting tower and the second-tallest human-made structure, so you should expect it to cast a blocks-long shadow on its surroundings in Japan's capital. The only building taller is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai — which rises 2,717 feet high, compared with the 2,080-foot Skytree.

The Skytree offers a restaurant and observation decks as well as broadcasting facilities for eight TV networks and two FM radio stations. There's a shopping arcade next door that includes a planetarium and aquarium. The complex had its official opening in May and is expected to draw 32 million visitors a year — which is more than Tokyo Disneyland's typical tally.

This picture of the Skytree and its tall shadow was captured on April 7 by one of DigitalGlobe's orbiting satellites, and ranks among the company's top 20 images for 2012. Facebook users have been invited to press their "like" buttons to vote for their favorite pictures over the next week. On Dec. 19, the field will be narrowed down to the top five — and then there'll be a Facebook vote for the year's top satellite picture. Check out DigitalGlobe's blog for more about the contest.

For more awe-inspiring sights from space, click through these past entries from our Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar. We're featuring a fresh view of Earth from space every day from now until Christmas. And because you've been extra good this year, I've added a couple of Web links to other cosmic Advent calendars:

Correction for 12:30 p.m. ET Dec. 13: At one point I added a phrase saying that Burj Khalifa was six stories higher than the Tokyo Skytree, but as a few commenters have pointed out, those would be mighty big stories, at roughly 100 feet per story. Sixty stories would be closer to the mark. Thanks for pointing out the estimating error, and apologies for getting it wrong.

Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other science and space news coverage, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered via email. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.