Space is cool, but so are seals.
Posted on December 18, 2015, at 4:48 a.m. ET
An aurora, seen from the ISS on 15 August 2015.
The Soyuz rocket carrying the British astronaut Tim Peake to the International Space Station launches from Kazakhstan.
An x-ray of the head of a hammerhead shark.
CT scan of Caulophryne pelagica, a deep-sea anglerfish, which has just swallowed another fish – a softskin smoothhead, Rouleina attrita. The anglerfish is in blue.
Nandita, an Asian elephant calf born at Chester Zoo in August.
A fruit bat, Anoura geoffroyi, feeding with its prehensile tongue.
The blue haze of Pluto’s atmosphere taken by the New Horizons space probe.
Saturn’s moons Enceladus and Tethys in perfect alignment, seen by the Cassini space probe, 14 December 2015.
One of the first detailed images of Pluto, seen from the New Horizons space probe in July.
Stars and dust in Corona Australis, the “Southern Crown”, a constellation in the southern hemisphere, January 1 2015.
A hole – the dark area at the top – in the corona of the sun, where the magnetic field is open to space and coronal material spills out. The high-speed particles, or “solar wind”, that come out cause auroras when they hit the Earth’s atmosphere. October 10, 2015.
Tracks left by water in the desert near Hamra Al Drooa, Oman, taken from the ISS by astronaut Kjell Lindgren on November 11. He described it as “the delicate fingerprints of water imprinted on the sand”.
The "Cinco de Mayo" flare, seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, on 5 May 2015. The images are false colour and taken in five different wavelengths, starting with visible light on the far left.
The shell of a spider’s-web diatom, Arachnoidiscus sp. – a tiny marine creature – seen in false colour through a microscope.
A false-colour set of images of Mercury, taken by NASA's Messenger space probe.
The Nile seen through the haze of Earth’s atmosphere, taken from the International Space Station by astronaut Scott Kelly.
Composite image of four rockets being launched into the aurora borealis ("northern lights") from NASA's Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska.
Shockwaves from a USAF T-38C training jet flying at supersonic speeds, 26 August 2015.
Galaxy M104 (the "Sombrero Galaxy"), seen from the Hubble Space Telescope with data added from the Subaru ground telescope, from 5 February 2015.
Astronaut Scott Kelly during an eight-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station on 6 November 2015, taken by his colleague Kjell Lindgren.
A humpback whale and her calf off the coast of Hawaii, shared by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
A group of seals chill out on mud flats in the Thames Estuary. More than 2,000 seals have been spotted in the Thames over the last 10 years, according to the Zoological Society of London.
The Villarrica volcano, Chile, showing visible signs of activity on 21 April 2015.
"Tristan", a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, unveiled at the Berlin Natural History Museum on 16 December 2015.
A rare nautilus, Allonautilus scrobiculatus, spotted for the first time in more than 30 years. Peter Ward, a University of Washington marine biologist, found it off the coast of Papua New Guinea. It's on the right, with its distinctive slimy shell, swimming with the more common Nautilus pompilius.
A conservator checks out Dippy the diplodocus at the Natural History Museum, London, as preparations begin for the dinosaur’s nationwide tour in 2018.
The first pictures of a pair of baby red panda twins called Bert and Ernie, born at Whipsnade Zoo in June this year, were released this September.
"Pregnant uterus, equine": Photograph of a pregnant uterus from a New Forest pony, approximately five months into the pregnancy. This picture was the overall winner of the Wellcome Trust image awards 2015.
"Mouse brain, coronal view" – a slice of a mouse brain under a microscope, with different sets of nerve cells dyed different colours. One of the winners of the Wellcome image awards 2015.
An electron microscope image of the head of a boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis. From the Wellcome image awards 2015.
Eye of a honey bee (Apis mellifera) covered in dandelion pollen at 120x magnification. This was the overall winner of the Nikon Small World microscope photography competition.
Liverwort (Lepidolaena taylorii) plant showing modified leaves or “water sacs”, which are often home to aquatic microorganisms such as rotifers, at 100x magnification. This image got an honourable mention in the Nikon Small World competition.
Tom Chivers is a science writer for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
Contact Tom Chivers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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