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Most Amazing Earth Images of 2012

Auroras Over Antarctica

Aurora hangs over Concordia Station in Antarctica.

(Image credit: ESA/A. Kumar & E. Bondoux.)

These bright green auroras dancing the sky brought a dose of cheer to the bleak, perpetually dark Antarctic winter. Below the stunning scene in the sky are the lonely lights of Concordia Station, situated in the middle of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The photo was snapped on July 18, during the austral winter.

Stunning Supermoon Shot

In Antarctica a supermoon lights up the South Pole.

(Image credit: Sven Lidstrom, National Science Foundation.)

Another stunning sight in the sky brought a little light to the United States' Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole. When this photo was taken in early May, the large, bright supermoon was visible above the station. The supermoon occurs when the full moon stage coincides with the moon's perigee, or closest monthly pass of the Earth. The bright of the moon gave researchers wintering over a little does of light.

Aurora Borealis from Above

Aurora Seen Over Canada From Space

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

Most images of auroras come from the ground looking up, but the Suomi NPP satellite caught this spectacular image of an aurora from its aerie looking down on the planet. The auroras were generated by a powerful solar flare, known as a coronal mass ejection, hit Earth's magnetic field on Oct. 8. The image shows the aurora dancing over the night lights of Canada's Quebec and Ontario provinces.

Growing Glacier Crack

Pine Island Glacier September 2012

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

A giant fissure was discovered cracking across Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier. A NASA satellite image taken on Sept. 14 showed that the crack was widening. Ultimately, the crack should extend across the glacier and spawn a new iceberg.

Sandy Smashes Shore

Hurricane Sandy Brooklyn

(Image credit: Carlos Ayala)

Carlos Ayala snapped this image of waves crashing ashore near the Verrazano Bridge in Brooklyn during Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29. Sandy's waves broke records, with a 32.5-foot (9.9 meters) detected southeast of Breezy Point, NY, and a 31-foot-high (9.4 m) wave recorded at a buoy located 30 nautical miles (55 km) south of Islip, Long Island.

'Black Marble'

earth images, blue marble, earth as art

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.)

Bookending our look back at the year comes another entry from the Suomi NPP satellite. The satellite's team recently released a set of images they are calling the "Black Marble," because they are shots of the Earth taken at night. The images were taken in April and October and span the globe, showing city lights at night, the nocturnal glow produced by Earth's atmosphere (called air glow), and even lights from ships at sea.

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