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:
- 2012 Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar
- Day 1: A fantastic Chinese fan
- Day 2: Satellite shows a Grander Canyon
- Day 3: Typhoon stirs awe — and alarm
- Day 4: Glittering nighttime view of Riyadh
- Day 5: Night lights shine on 'Black Marble'
- Day 6: Holy sites seen at night
- Day 7: Blue Marble still leaves its mark
- Day 8: Satellites look into a volcano's hell
- Day 9: Jack Frost nipping at Alaska's nose
- Day 10: Cosmonaut looks down on peaks
- Day 11: Earth looms above moonwalker
- Day 12: Skytree casts shadow on Tokyo
- Day 13: Aurora sets stage for meteor show
- Day 14: Apollo's last look at Earthrise
- Day 15: A sobering moment from space
- Day 16: Middle Earth spotted from orbit
- Day 17: Mount Etna erupts ... in 3-D!
- Day 18: Gaze into the Great Blue Hole
- 2011 Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar
- 2010 Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar
- The Atlantic: Hubble Advent Calendar
- Zooniverse Advent Calendar
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.