London at midnight, Jan. 30, 2016.
London at midnight, Jan. 30, 2016.Tim Peake—ESA/NASA
London at midnight, Jan. 30, 2016.
Auroras on Jupiter
Resembling an opulent diamond tapestry, this image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows a glittering star cluster that contains a collection of some of the brightest stars seen in our Milky Way galaxy. Called Trumpler 14, it is located 8,000 light-years away in the Carina Nebula, a huge star-formation region. Because the cluster is only 500,000 years old, it has one of the highest concentrations of massive, luminous stars in the entire Milky Way. Jan. 21, 2016.
The full moon rises just before sunset, over western China, June 21, 2016.
SPACE-US-JAPAThis NASA photo obtained Dec. 14, 2016 shows an image taken by Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agencys Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-6) as it approached the International Space Station on Dec. 12, 2016.N-KOUNOTORI
This false-color view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows clouds in Saturn's northern hemisphere. The view was made using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to infrared light at 750, 727 and 619 nanometers. Filters like these, which are sensitive to absorption and scattering of sunlight by methane in Saturn's atmosphere, have been useful throughout Cassini's mission for determining the structure and depth of cloud features in the atmosphere. July 20, 2016.
The Milky Way is observed behind a lookout tower near the Hungarian border village of Tachty, or Tajti in Hungarian, Slovakia, Aug. 28, 2016.
A maelstrom of glowing gas and dark dust within one of the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). This stormy scene shows a stellar nursery known as N159, an HII region over 150 light-years across. Sept. 5, 2016.
Election Day 2016 Thanks to a bill passed by Texas legislators that put in place technical voting procedure for astronauts, they have the ability to vote from space through specially designed absentee ballots. To preserve the integrity of the secret vote, the ballot is encrypted and only accessible by the astronaut and the county clerk responsible for casting it.Image Credit: NASA
Blue bubble in Carina
Running Man Nebula, Jan. 8, 2016.
An image of the Milky Way, released to mark the completion of the APEX Telescope Large Area Survey of the Galaxy. The APEX telescope in Chile has mapped the full area of the Galactic Plane visible from the southern hemisphere for the first time at submillimetre wavelengths — between infrared light and radio waves — and in finer detail than recent space-based surveys.
An all-sky view of stars in our Galaxy – the Milky Way – and neighboring galaxies, based on the first year of observations from ESA’s Gaia satellite, from July 2014 to Sept. 2015.
Moonrise on the International Space Station Astronaut Kate Rubins on the International Space Station shared this image of moonrise. Image credit: NASA
The 2,980-mile-wide (4,800-kilometer-wide) Cassini Division in Saturn's rings is thought to be caused by the moon Mimas. This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 4 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 28, 2016.
Bright, frosty polar caps, and clouds above a vivid, rust-colored landscape reveal Mars as a dynamic seasonal planet on May 12, 2016.
This image of the Orion Nebula star-formation region was obtained from multiple exposures using the HAWK-I infrared camera on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.
The Richat Structure or “Bulls Eye” in Mauritania. June 30, 2016.
This photo released on Nov. 17, 2016 shows shows the Ariane 5 rocket with a payload of four Galileo satellites lifting off from ESA's European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
This Hubble image shows the central region of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The young and dense star cluster R136 can be seen at the lower right of the image. This cluster contains hundreds of young blue stars, among them the most massive star detected in the universe so far. March 17, 2016.
A nearly full moon rises above the Valley of the Gods near Mexican Hat, Utah, on Nov. 13, 2016.
Dec. 2, 2016) --- Pink light from the Veggie experiment illuminates the Columbus module aboard the International Space Station. The Veggie system is a deployable plant growth unit capable of producing salad-type crops to provide the crew with a palatable, nutritious, and safe source of fresh food and a tool to support relaxation and recreation.
Milky Way rising over the horizon, June 6, 2016.
A newly formed star lights up the surrounding cosmic clouds in this image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Dust particles in the vast clouds that surround the star HD 97300 diffuse its light, like a car headlight in enveloping fog, and create the reflection nebula IC 2631. Feb. 10, 2016.
Dusty filaments in NGC 4696
Green lights from night fishing boats, Thailand, March 17, 2016.
The Bubble Nebula, also known as NGC 7635, is an emission nebula located 8000 light-years away. This image was released on April 21, 2016.
An aurora over northern Canada, Jan. 20, 2016.
The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on launch Pad-0A as the moon sets, predawn, on Oct. 15, 2016 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
London at midnight, Jan. 30, 2016. Tim Peake—ESA/NASA
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The Best Space Photos of 2016

2016 was a year full of new discoveries and beautiful imagery coming from our universe. We saw new images of Saturn's rings and even of the surface of our own moon. We got a deeper look into the structure of one of the brightest galaxies, and witnessed stunning views taken from multiple astronauts from the NASA, ESA, JAXA agencies as they circled our planet aboard the International Space Station.

TIME's photo editors select the best and most stunning space images of this year.

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