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Pyramids have their day in the sun


This picture showing the Pyramids at Giza was taken from the International Space Station on July 25.

The ancient Maya pyramids of Mexico and Central America got some well-deserved time in the spotlight today during the non-apocalypse, but let's not forget those other, older pyramids in Egypt. This picture shows the layout of the Pyramids at Giza, as seen from the International Space Station this summer.

From left to right, you can see the pyramids of the Pharaohs Menkaure, Khafre and Khufu, with the Sphinx sitting southeast of Khufu's Great Pyramid. (North is pointing toward the upper right corner of the frame.) Several smaller, unfinished pyramids lie to the south of Menkaure's monument, and fields of rectangular, flat-roofed tombs sprawl to the east and west of Khufu's pyramid. There's a golf course right next to the pyramids, and the streets and buildings of El Giza spread out to the picture's right edge.

The Pyramids at Giza date back 4,500 years, which makes them at least a millennium older than the oldest Maya pyramids.

This view of the pyramids from space serves as today's offering from the Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which serves up a fresh picture of Earth as seen from space every day until Christmas. Click on the links below to sample the calendar's other visual goodies:

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.