Astronomer Phil Plait rates top space pictures of 2011

That’s an understatement. Every year Astronomer Phil Plait picks his favorite astronomical images of the year and posts them on his Bad Astronomy blog, hosted by the Discovery Channel. But this year he had so many he had to have three categories: Space Pictures (in or from near-Earth orbit), Solar System Pictures and Deep Space Pictures. The most mind blowing in my opinion are the latter – not just your standard pretty nebulas, but a soap-bubble like sphere of compressed matter, a supernova remnant that looks like a sponge and a dying star shedding its outer layers of gas in a magnificent cylinder shape.  Check it out, you won’t be sorry.