Network telescopes provide a unique window into Internet-wide malicious activities associated with malware propagation, denial of service attacks, network reconnaissance, and others. Analyses of this telescope data can highlight ongoing malicious events in the Internet which can be used to prevent or mitigate cyber-threats in real-time. However, large telescopes observe millions of events on a daily basis which renders the task of transforming this knowledge to meaningful insights challenging. In order to address this, we present a novel framework for characterizing Internet's background radiation and for tracking its temporal evolution. The proposed framework: (i) Extracts a high dimensional representation of telescope scanners composed of features distilled from telescope data and learns an information-preserving low-dimensional representation of these events that is amenable to clustering; (ii) Performs clustering of resulting representation space to characterize the scanners and (iii) Utilizes the clustering outcomes as "signatures"to detect temporal changes in the network telescope.