The 29 Most Spectacular Space Photos Of 2014


The year 2014 was a stellar one for spaceflight, what with ESA's Rosetta mission putting a robotic lander on a distant comet and NASA successfully testing its Orion spacecraft.

But 2014 was also a great year for space photography, as you can see from these remarkable 29 images (scroll down) picked for your viewing pleasure by your friends at HuffPost Science.

Join us for a trip through the cosmos--and be prepared to pick your jaw up off the floor.

NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
This Hubble Space Telescope photo shows NGC 2174, the "Monkey Head Nebula," located 6,400 light-years from Earth.
Goddard Space Flight Center/AP
A powerful X-class solar flare, one of three X-class flares unleashed by the sun on June 10 and 11, as seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. X-class flares are the most powerful kind.
NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Hubble image of the barred spiral galaxy M83, the "Southern Pinwheel," which lies 15 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra. This mosaic image was released in January.
Astronaut Koichi Wakata tweeted this view of a crescent moon rising and the cusp of Earth's atmosphere on Feb. 1, 2014.
Galaxy NGC 4258, located about 23 million light-years away from Earth, as seen by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.
This photo of a "rainbow aurora" was taken by ISS astronaut Alexander Gerst.
NASA/JPL/University of Colorado
This close-up image of part of Saturn's rings was taken by the Cassini spacecraft on June 30. It shows, from left to right, the outer portion of Saturn's C ring and the inner portion of the B ring.
Reid Wiseman/NASA
ISS astronaut Reid Wiseman tweeted this image of a sunrise on Oct. 29. Wiseman wrote, "Not every day is easy. Yesterday was a tough one. #sunrise"
NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory
This image taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a profile view of coronal loops. Coronal loops are found around sunspots and in active regions.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
This image shows the sunlit side of Saturn's rings. It was taken in red light by the Cassini spacecraft's narrow-angle camera on Aug. 23.
Several celestial objects photographed in the same field of view by Spanish-American astrophotographer Rogelio Bernal Andreo, including supernova remnant Simeas 147, the "Flaming Star" nebula, nebula IC 410, and galactic clusters M36 and M38.
Rick Stevenson/Flickr
Astrophotographer Rick Stevenson released this photo of SH2-199, also known as the "Soul Nebula," in December. This emission nebula is located about 6,500 light-years from Earth.
ESA/Hubble & NASA
This Hubble image shows a portion of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small nearby galaxy that orbits our galaxy, the Milky Way.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
A new day dawns on Saturn. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft's wide-angle camera on Aug. 23.
X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/S.Mineo et al, Optical: NASA/STScI, Infr
The photo is a composite image of the spiral galaxies NGC 2207 and IC 2163, located 130 million light years away in the constellation Canis Major. The image contains data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory in pink, optical light data from the Hubble Space Telescope in red, green, and blue, and infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope in red.
In January and February 1979, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft zoomed toward Jupiter, capturing hundreds of images during its approach, including this close-up of swirling clouds around Jupiter's Great Red Spot. This image was assembled from three black and white negatives and newly released.
An extreme ultra-violet wavelength image of a solar flare captured on Sept. 10.
NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
This Hubble Space Telescope composite image shows a supernova explosion designated SN 2014J in the galaxy M82, at a distance of approximately 11.5 million light-years from Earth. It was taken on Jan. 31, as the supernova approached its peak brightness.
NASA, ESA, and E. Sabbi (STScI)
An image of the Tarantula Nebula (or NGC 2070), located about 160,000 lights years away, released in January.
X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/K.Getman, E.Feigelson, M.Kuhn and the MYStIX team; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This composite image shows one of the clusters, NGC 2024, which is found in the center of the so-called Flame Nebula about 1,400 light years from Earth. In this image, X-rays from Chandra are seen as purple, while infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope are colored red, green and blue.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Saturn's moon Tethys captured by the Cassini spacecraft's narrow-angle camera on July 14.
The Philae lander took this portrait of the Rosetta spacecraft on Sept. 7, 2014, at a distance of about 30 miles from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
The puzzling, fascinating surface of Jupiter's icy moon Europa looms large in this newly-reprocessed color view, made from images taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s.
A widefield view of the Flame (NGC2024) and Horsehead (IC434) Nebulae in Orion, captured in December by astrophotographer Roger Hutchinson. The pair are approximately 900 to 1,500 light years away.
AP Photo/ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, captured on Aug. 3, 2014 by Rosetta's OSIRIS narrow-angle camera.
The Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away. This stunning false-color view was constructed using infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope.
NASA/Reid Wiseman
NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman captured this image from the International Space Station and tweeted it on Sept. 28, writing, "The Milky Way steals the show from Sahara sands that make the Earth glow orange."
NASA/ESA/Alexander Gerst
European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted this photograph taken from the International Space Station to social media on Aug. 29, 2014, writing, "words can't describe how it feels flying through an #aurora. I wouldn't even know where to begin…."
ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgements: D. Calzetti (UMass) and the LEGUS Team
This view, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and released in July, shows a nearby spiral galaxy known as NGC 1433. At about 32 million light-years from Earth, it is a type of very active galaxy known as a Seyfert galaxy--with a bright, luminous center comparable in brightness to that of our entire galaxy, the Milky Way.

Photos curated by Damon Scheleur and Macrina Cooper-White.

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