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100 Best Space Photos of 2012: Gallery

Active Sunspot Shoots Off Intense New Solar Flare

NASA/SDO/AIA

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an image of the sun during an M6.1 solar flare that peaked early in the morning on July 5. Active region 1515, where the flare originated, has now spit out 12 medium strength, or M-class, flares since July 3. [Full Story]

Spectacular Full Moon Shines Over Paris, City of Light

VegaStar Carpentier

A gigantic full moon looms over Paris in this spectacular night sky view. [Full Story]

Red

NASA

Mysterious red sprites appear when electrical discharges take place about 50 miles (80 kilometers) up in the atmosphere during thunderstorms. The short-lived flashes only last a few milliseconds and can extend vertically 20 to 30 kilometers. Since the crimson apparitions manifest above thunderstorms, observers on the ground usually cannot see them. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station, on the other hand, have no such obstructions blocking their view. The red sprite seen here (above the bright lightning spot at right) was captured as the ISS was travelling over Myanmar (Burma) into Malaysia on April 30, 2012. [More Amazing Daily Space Photos]

Saturn's Rings Shine in Amazing Photos by Cassini Probe

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

The dazzling rings of Saturn are taking center stage in amazing new pictures snapped by NASA's Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting the planet. [Full Story]

Amazing Southern Lights View from Space Leaves Astronaut Awestruck

NASA/Joe Acaba

Shimmering auroras in the night sky are amazing to behold, but nothing prepared NASA astronaut Joe Acaba for seeing the celestial lights dance over Earth from space. [Full Story]

Photographer Captures Venus' Rare Journey Across a Melting Sun

Tunc Tezel / The World at Night

Venus makes its rare transit across a melting sun in this amazing image captured at sunset by a veteran photographer. [Full Story]

Olympic City: London's Lights Seen from Space

NASA Earth Observatory

None of the billions of people expected to watch the 2012 London Olympics will get a view of London quite like this one, which was captured by the Suomi NPP satellite on the night of March 27, 2012. [Full Story]

Spectacular Photo of Orion Space Cloud Snapped by Night Sky Observers

Josh Knutson

After seven cold nights, an exhausted astrophotographer captured this beautiful photo of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. [Full Story]

50-Mile Landslides Spotted on Saturn's Icy Moon

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Studying Saturn's moon, Iapetus, scientists found landslides that traveled as far as fifty miles. These long-ranging debris fields could provide clues to similar occurrences back on Earth. [Full Story]

Amazing Eagle Nebula Swoops into Stargazer's Night Sky Photo

Bill Snyder Astrophotography

Soaring thousands of light years from Earth, the Eagle nebula appears in beautiful display in this night sky photo. [Full Story]

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