A Chinese satellite has snapped what might be the best ever photo taken of the Moon and the Earth.

The image shows our neighbour's "dark side" – the distant part of the Moon that is always facing from Earth and so has gone largely unseen by humanity. And it shows our planet, small in the background, dwarfed as the camera floats in front of the Moon.

But the photo was able to be taken because China's Longjiang-2 is currently in Lunar orbit. It arrived in June 2018, alongside another satellite that has recently been busy helping engineers speak with the Chang'e-4 lander that has been exploring the surface of the far side of the Moon.

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Now that the quiet period to ensure there wasn't too much radio noise during that lunar landing is over, the satellite is back to work. That gave scientists the opportunity to take more photos of the Earth and Moon.

The new image was taken as part of that work, after an instruction was sent to the satellite to start taking timelapse images. The first of them was downloaded to the Dwingeloo telescope in the Netherlands on 4 February after being taken a day before.

It marks the first time that both the Earth and Moon are in view from that satellite, though it will probably not be the last. And it might be the best ever picture taken of the two objects together.

The Longjiang-2 satellite had originally headed to the Moon alongside a companion, known as Longjiang-1. Together, the two were tasked with looking onto the Moon's surface as they travelled around in orbit.

But China lost contact with Longjiang-1 as it headed out to the Moon. Longjiang-2 has now been left alone, to send stunning photographs back down to Earth.

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