The Top Astronomy Pictures of 2012

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Dec. 19 2012 11:24 AM

The Top Astronomy Pictures of 2012

Top Astronomy Pictures of 2012
The Top Astronomy Pictures of 2012: Click to go to the gallery.

Image credit: NASA/JAXA/Hinode/Phil Plait

Astronomy is a beautiful science.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

I mean that literally and figuratively. Of course, astronomy is literally telling us our place in the Universe, how everything works, how it fits together … and it’s done on the grandest of scales. There’s a beauty in the tapestry of the cosmos.

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But it’s also just beautiful. Nebulae, galaxies, stars, planets, aurorae; from the near sky to the most distant realms, the Universe is filled to overflowing with pure, simple beauty.

That’s why, every year, I gather together my favorite images taken over the past twelve months and present them to you, my readers. It’s a difficult task, winnowing down the thousands of pictures taken of the sky that I’ve seen, gathering them into groups, picking the best of the best, and then putting them together. It's a tough but admittedly joyful process: I'm sifting through gorgeous depictions of the science I love! And in the end I have a collection of polished gems to share with you. I pick them for their beauty, of course, but also for their remarkableness, their outstanding nature. Something different, something unique, something just plain cool.

This year, as always, we had an amazing crop of pictures from all over—and above—the world. So, from our Earth's atmosphere to quite literally the very edge of the observable Universe, may I present to you: The Top Astronomy Pictures of 2012.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.