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The 100 Best Space Photos of 2018!

The North America Nebula Complex

John Chumack/Galactic Images

This star-filled image by astrophotographer John Chumack shows the North America Nebula Complex, located about 2,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The nebula get its name from its shape, which resembles the continent of North America.

Star Trails Over La Silla

P. Horálek/ESO

Stars swirl above three telescopes at the La Silla observatory in Chile in this stunning image by European Southern Observatory (ESO) photo ambassador Petr Horálek. The stars circle around the celestial pole, which is hiding behind the top of the Danish 1.54-meter telescope on the right. On the left is the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope, with ESO's 3.6-meter telescope behind it in the distance.

Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner and Capella

John Chumack/Galactic Images

Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner passes by Capella, the "Goat Star," in this deep-space image by astrophotographer John Chumack. The bright-green comet, which will make its closest approach to the sun on Sept. 10, is currently visible with binoculars and small telescopes. Chumack captured this photo of the comet in the early morning of Sept. 3, 2018, using a 300-millimeter (11.8 inches) telephoto lens. [Amazing Photos: The Comets 21P/Giacobini-Zinner and 46P/Wirtanen of 2018]

The Dumbbell Nebula

Ron Brecher

Glowing faintly some 1,360 light-years away in the constellation Vulpecula (the Fox) is a dumbbell-shaped cloud of cosmic dust and gas known as M27. Astrophotographer Ron Brecher created this image of the distant nebula using 25 hours' worth of data collected in July and August of 2018.

Very Large Telescope Family Portrait

P. Horálek/ESO

The Milky Way shimmers over six of the eight telescopes that make up the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope array in this fulldome view captured by ESO photographer Petr Horálek at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. A yellow laser beams into the sky to create an artificial star, or a "laser guide star," which helps astronomers correct for atmospheric turbulence or "seeing" when observing the cosmos.

The Harvest Moon

Kwong Liew/@liewdesign

The nearly full Harvest Moon rises over hikers at the Mission Peak Regional Preserve near San Francisco, California, in this image taken by astrophotographer Kwong Liew on Sept. 23, 2018. [Full Story: See the Harvest Moon of 2018 in These Gorgeous Photos!]

Two Parting Rocket Stages

Courtesy of Sheila Hoffos

Two stages of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket separate inside a glowing plume shortly after the rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Oct. 7, 2018. After separation, the rocket's second stage continued to haul the SAOCOM-1A satellite into orbit while the first stage returned to Earth for a historic first landing on the U.S. West Coast. Photographer Sheila Hoffos captured this view of the launch from Simi Valley, California, roughly 120 miles (190 kilometers) southeast of Vandenberg. [Full Story: Spectacular SpaceX Rocket Launch Lights Up the Southern California Night Sky

The 'Fireworks Galaxy'

Ron Brecher

The spiral galaxy NGC 6946, also known as the "Fireworks Galaxy," glows with vibrant shades of red and blue in this deep-space image by astrophotographer Ron Brecher. That group of stars to its upper right is NGC 6939, an open star cluster located 4,000 light-years away in the constellation Cepheus. While these two objects appear close together from our perspective on Earth, the Fireworks Galaxy is actually much farther away from Earth at a distance of about 22.5 million light-years.

A Moonlit Liftoff

S. Corvaja/ESA

The BepiColombo mission launches to Mercury in this fisheye view from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. BepiColombo launched on Oct. 19, 2018 and became the first mission to head to Mercury in 14 years.

Swedish-ESO Submillimeter Telescope

ESO

A reflection of the Milky Way glitters in the reflective dish of the retired Swedish-ESO Submillimeter Telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile's Atacama Desert.

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Hanneke Weitering

Hanneke Weitering is an editor at Space.com with 10 years of experience in science journalism. She has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time Hanneke likes to explore the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.