Here’s what we’ve been reading and watching today:

1) Here is a gorgeous new photo of the Milky Way’s neighbor — the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). The image was taken by Japan’s Subaru telescope:

M31 captured by HSC. (Credit: HSC Project / NAOJ)

The image (here’s the full-resolution version, which may take a while to download) was captured using a Hyper Suprime-Came (HSC) and, according to a release, is a fulfillment of a key goal for the telescope: to show that it can be used to put together a “large-scale survey of the universe.” The image is remarkable considering that Andromeda is roughly 2.5 million light years from Earth. Here’s Carl Sagan to explain just how mind-bogglingly far Andromeda is:

(via io9 and National Astronomical Observatory of Japan: Subaru Telescope)

2) The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has released its report on the Aaron Swartz prosecution, and the institution’s involvement. The report was requested by the university’s president, L. Rafael Reif, in early January, following Swartz’s suicide. Swartz’s partner, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman released a statement Tuesday saying the report was “a whitewash” and that the university’s “behavior throughout the case was reprehensible.” Reif issued an open letter Tuesday writing, “From studying this review of MIT’s role, I am confident that MIT’s decisions were reasonable, appropriate and made in good faith.” (via Wired)

3) If you’re a fan of Pinterest, Fancy or other sleek photo-sharing sites and wish desperately that they could replace’s Web-store experience, then wish no longer. TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington reports that Canopy has launched. The platform allows users to find and share products available on Amazon, but with a much more sleek, modern design. The site is currently invite-only. (TechCrunch)

4) In other news, and in case you don’t have Saturday afternoon plans, NASA has announced that live video coverage of the Japanese cargo spacecraft, Kounotori, scheduled to head to the international space station will be on Aug. 3 and Aug. 9. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will be launching the H-II Transport Vehicle (HTV)-4 at 3:48 p.m. Eastern time on Aug. 3 from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. NASA’s live coverage will begin at 3 pm. Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano (who recently experienced a mishap with his space suit during a space walk) will be monitoring the rendezvous. (NASA)

5) In the lead-up to the release of “X-Men: Days Of Future Past,” Fox Studios has created a pretty realistic Web site for Trask Industries along with an ad celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the fictional Sentinel program — emphasis on the “fictional”. On the site, there’s even a section dedicated to, you guessed it, innovation:

(via Devour)