Instagram is usually dominated by selfies from celebrities and their fans, but organizations like National Geographic and NASA are there as well. This year, NASA shared thousands of photos of stars, galaxies, and meteor showers for the world.
The universe is still a massive mystery, and it’s one we won’t uncover for another thousand years — or more. Until then, we hang onto every stellar photo brought to us courtesy of organizations like NASA.
The writers at CrowdTangle sifted through NASA’s Instagram photos to find the top 10 most amazing shots of 2015.
#10 Perseid Meteor Shower
NASA’s photo of the Perseid meteor shower is awe inspiring and proves that being last on the list definitely doesn’t mean least. The meteor shower is caused by debris falling off Comet Swift-Tuttle as it travels through the inner solar system. When Earth passes through the comet’s trail, specs of debris hit the atmosphere at 140,000 mph. This shower is named for the constellation Perseus, since meteors from it appear to fly out from the constellation.
#9 Looking At Earth From The ISS
This photo was shared by European Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and came with the caption, “”Good night from space.” The International Space Station is a feat of human engineering. In it, astronauts orbit around the Earth and carry out experiments with the benefit of zero gravity. The photograph showcased the ISS’s ability to send vertical images of Earth.
#8 Moonlight over Italy
Before going to bed aboard ISIS, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly shared this amazing image of Italy lit up at night. Kelly is spending a year on the International Space Station working for the Earth. The space station travels about 250 miles above the Earth at an astounding 17,500 mph. It makes more than 12 trips around our world each day.
#7 A Solar “Pumpkin”
NASA shared this image of the sun to celebrate Halloween. It was taken October 2014 by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The SDO’s sole job is to watch the sun at all times from its orbit around the Earth. The active regions of the sun show more light in the photo because they emit more energy.
#6 “Unmistakably Africa”
Commander Scott Kelly shared this image in November of Africa from the International Space Station. The NASA astronaut captures as many photographs of Earth from space as he can.
#5 Colorful Liquid in Space
Astronauts on the ISS dissolved an effervescent tablet into a ball of floating water. They captured this footage using a camera capable of recording four times the resolution of normal high-definition cameras. The new cameras can be invaluable to scientists and are giving researchers a new tool aboard the space station. The footage taken of this water ball is one of the first of its kind.
#4 White Dwarfs at the Heart of the Milky Way
This photo shows ancient white dwarf stars at the heart of our galaxy. The image was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Astronomers have long searched for the blueprints of the Milky Way’s early construction phase. Finding relics like these white dwarfs can help give clues to how the galaxy was built. This is just a small piece of Hubble’s view of the collection of stars in the middle of our galaxy.
#3 Northern Lights in Harstad, Norway
The northern lights are always a fantastic display. This photographer captured the image in November of this collision between magnetic solar material and the magnetosphere. The northern lights are created after a geomagnetic storm, also called a coronal mass ejection from the sun. The CME hits Earth’s magnetosphere and casts brilliant lights for all to see.
#2 Super Blood Moon
This year Earth saw a super blood moon, which is a combination of a supermoon and total lunar eclipse. This beautiful combination, seen Sunday September 27, will not be seen again until 2033.
#1 Pluto Sends its Love
Despite being knocked out of real planet status, the dwarf planet Pluto still sends its love to Earth. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft traveled more than 9 years and 3+ billion miles to reach the small planet. This image is the last sent from the spacecraft to Earth before the moment of closest approach. It is the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far away from ours.
As NASA continues its mission to explore space, we are sure to receive even more amazing photos of the planets, stars, and Earth.