Roamy here. I mentioned in an earlier post some photographs taken from the Cupola on the International Space Station. This relatively small piece of hardware is an incredible benefit for astronaut mental health. Quite a few astronauts have said that this is their favorite place for some downtime, to watch the Earth go by, to watch a sunrise or sunset.
The window in the Destiny laboratory module has higher transmission and is better designed for science experiments and Earth observing, but nothing beats being able to look all around. There is also less fan and equipment noise here. Shutters are used to keep the windows from being pitted by meteoroids or space debris.
The Cupola was going to be built by NASA and Boeing, but it ended up being built by Alenio Spazio and the European Space Agency as part of Node 3, a.k.a. Tranquillity Node. (Side note: Tranquillity is the module for which NASA had a naming contest, and Stephen Colbert fans stuffed the ballot box. But that’s a story for another post.)
Look for more pictures taken from the Cupola in the future.