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100 Best Space Photos of 2012: Gallery

Majestic Sunspot Blesses Basilica at Sunrise in Spectacular Picture

Skywatcher Stefano De Rosa sent this image of Sunspot AR1476.

A magnificent sun rises alongside the Basilica of Superga in Turin, Italy, with the massive sunspot AR 1476 in clear view. [Full Story]

'Big Bird' on the Sun Spotted in Spacecraft Photo

NASA/SDO

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory has snapped a shot of a so-called coronal hole on the sun that looks a lot like Big Bird. [Full Story]

Transit of Venus 2012

NASA/SDO

On June 5-6 2012, SDO collected images of the rarest predictable solar event--the transit of Venus across the face of the sun. This event happens in pairs eight years apart which are separated from each other by 105 or 121 years. The last transit was in 2004 and the next will not happen until 2117. [Full Photo Gallery]

Venus and Hubble Space Telescope Cross Sun Together in Spectacular Picture

Thierry Legault

Photographing Tuesday's historic Venus transit of the sun is special enough on its own, but one space photographer managed to get NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in the frame as well. [Full Story]

Overlapping Galaxies NGC 3314

STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and W. Keel (University of Alabama)

The Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a spectacular new image of two galaxies that look like they're slamming into each other, but in reality something just as rare is happening, scientists say.

In an amazing chance photograph, the Hubble Space Telescope snapped a view of two galaxies lining up, one behind the other, as viewed from the space telescope's vantage point. The image offers a rare view of the overlapping galaxies, which are collectively known as NGC 3314, Hubble scientists said in a statement. [Full Story]

Most Distant Galaxy Known

NAOJ

A new galaxy has taken the title of most distant known, according to scientists from the Subaru and Keck Telescopes.

The galaxy, called SXDF-NB1006-2, lies a whopping 12.91 billion light-years from Earth. Since its light has taken that long to reach us, we are seeing it as it was less than a billion years after the Big Bang created the universe. So SXDF-NB1006-2 was likely among the first galaxies ever made. Full Story]

Surprise! Big Asteroid That Flew by Earth Larger Than Thought

USRA

A massive asteroid that zipped by Earth a week ago is actually twice as large as scientists originally thought, according to astronomers who studied the behemoth space rock as it flew past, well beyond the orbit of the moon. [Full Story]

Shenzhou 9: China's 1st Manned Space Docking Mission (Pictures)

China Manned Space Engineering Office

A Chinese Long March 2F rocket launches on the Shenzhou 9 mission, China's first manned space docking flight and first flight of a female astronaut, on June 16, 2012 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. [Full Launch Photo Gallery]

Double Space Rainbow!

Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response

NASA's Aqua satellite caught an arresting image of a rainbow-like optical phenomenon called a glory over the Pacific Ocean on June 20. [Full Story]

Deep In Heart of Centaurus A

ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); ESO/Y. Beletsky

A recent photo taken of Centaurus A by the European Southern Observatory's ALMA radio telescope in Chile offers a clear view through the dust towards the galaxy's luminous center. [Full Story and Video]

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