I'm a big fan of cool coincidences, especially of the astronomical kind. And this one is simply too funny.
On February 14, 2000 - yes, on Valentine's Day! - the space mission called Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (or NEAR) entered into orbit around the asteroid named 433 Eros
. This spud-shaped rock is 34 x 11 x 11 km (21 x 7 x 7 miles) in size, and sometimes approaches near the Earth (though we are in no danger from it for a long, long
time, like millions of years).
As NEAR approached Eros, it snapped this shot of a feature at one end (I inset a zoomed-in picture on the lower right). It's actually three separate craters, lit by the Sun in just such a way as to resemble... well, you
And while it's a funny coincidence that NEAR went into orbit on Valentine's Day, it may be an even better one that Eros itself is named after the Greek god of love
. Well, um, physical
love, but you get the meaning. Higher res version.Original release
.Image credit: NEAR Project (JHU/APL)