Feast your eyes, heart, and mind on some of the most stunning science and nature photography of 2018

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  • Science and nature provide some of the most compelling photography subjects, both on and off Earth.
  • The staff of Business Insider and Insider rounded up some of our favorite pictures from 2018.
  • The images we picked show elephants under threat, hurricanes from space, individual atoms, face transplants, spacecraft selfies, and more.

Reporters and editors at Business Insider and Insider see, analyze, and write about thousands of stunning science and nature photos every year.

Some pictures tell stories and reveal truths stronger than words could, occasionally inspiring enough minds or wrenching enough hearts to change the course of history. Other images hide amazing secrets that beg to be shown, explained, and demystified.

The best images force us to reconsider how we think the world works and looks (and are also visually arresting, of course). Such shots often show a feat or a discovery, but they can also underscore the scope and reality of ongoing or looming disasters.

As we speed toward the New Year, we rounded up some of our favorite photos of 2018. Take a look.

SEE ALSO: Humanity has racked up extraordinary feats of spaceflight since NASA’s first moon mission 50 years ago. Here are the greatest hits.

DON’T MISS: 2019 will be an extraordinary year in space. Here’s what NASA, SpaceX, and the night sky have in store for planet Earth.

Scientists discovered a new type of aurora earlier this year. They named it STEVE, an acronym for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.

STEVE does not share the green and blue hues of other auroras. Instead, it looks purple and is surrounded by a green structure resembling a fence.

This aurora appears much closer to the equator than the northern lights, or aurora borealis.

Amateur sky-watchers first observed the strange lights in Southern Canada three years ago. They later collaborated with NASA, and the group’s findings were published in March.

Each year, the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council puts on a science photography competition. This year’s winner was a stunning photo of a single positively charged atom of strontium.

The photo shows a glow of light emitted by an atom that’s trapped by magnetic fields and laser light. It was taken by David Nadlinger from the University of Oxford.

While you can’t see anything atomic-sized without incredibly advanced imaging techniques, digital cameras can capture the photons (or particles of light) that are absorbed and re-emitted by atoms. 

Photographers also documented devastating natural disasters throughout 2018. In the fall, astronauts in space managed to take pictures of the fearsome hurricanes that battered the US East Coast.

Alexander Gerst, a German astronaut who returned to Earth in December, saw this stunning view of Hurricane Florence from the space station’s windows in September.

"Watch out, America!" Gerst said in a tweet featuring the pictures he took.

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season was above-average in terms of damage, causing more than $33 billion in losses, due in part to torrential rainfall. Florence was one of two major (Category 4 or above) storms that made landfall in the US; the other was Hurricane Michael.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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