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Holiday calendar: Mt. Fuji goes fuzzy


A cloud hangs over the summit of Japan's Mount Fuji in this picture from space, captured by DigitalGlobe's WorldView 2 satellite on Sept. 20.

It may look as if a cotton ball is floating over Mount Fuji in this satellite image, but it's actually a cloud — the kind of cloud that's known to give an otherworldly look to Japan's highest peak.

This picture was snapped by DigitalGlobe's WorldView 2 satellite on Sept. 20, and it's currently the front-runner in the company's contest to select the year's top image. Cast a vote for your favorite on DigitalGlobe's Facebook page, and check back in January to find out which picture wins out.

DigitalGlobe started out with 20 satellite pictures from the past year, and winnowed them down to five finalists. Last week we showed you a different picture from the 20-picture set: a shot of the Tokyo Skytree casting its long shadow on the city. I can understand why the Fuji picture is favored: That cloud definitely adds an air of mystery to the scene. But it's not really all that mysterious: Weather conditions on the mountain lend themselves to strange-shaped lenticular clouds. (This one looks totally fake.)

The perspective from above — 478 miles (770 kilometers) above, to be exact — just adds to the eerieness.

This cottony mountaintop picture is today's offering from the Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which serves up a fresh image of Earth from space every day from now until Christmas. Click on the links below to gather up the goodies you may have missed:

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 dwarf planets and the search for new worlds.