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Photographers around the world looked up to the sky this past weekend to capture the "supermoon." This is the phenomenon when the moon makes its closest approach to Earth, appearing 30 percent brighter and about 14 percent larger than a typical full moon. It occurs about once every 14 months and is technically called a perigee full moon. At 221,823 miles from Earth, the supermoon was a feast for the eyes.-Leanne Burden Seidel (24 photos total)
A cotton candy vendor walks in from of the moon during the Los Angeles Angels' baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, June 22 in Anaheim, Calif. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)    

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This was a weekend of the Sun and Moon -- a coincidence of the summer solstice and the "Supermoon". Friday was the summer solstice (in the northern hemisphere), welcomed by humans for thousands of years as the longest day of the year. In ancient times, people celebrated this day as the center point of summer. Some still observe the solstice with ceremonies and prayers, gathering on mountaintops or at spiritual landmarks. Over the weekend, skywatchers around the world were also treated to views of the so-called Supermoon, the largest full moon of the year. On Sunday, the moon approached within 357,000 km (222,000 mi) of Earth, in what is called a perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system (perigee: closest point of an elliptical orbit; syzygy: straight line made of three bodies in a gravitational system). Photographers across the globe set out to capture both events, and collected here are 24 images of our two most-visible celestial neighbors. [24 photos]

The largest full moon of 2013, a "supermoon" scientifically known as a "perigee moon", rises over the Tien Shan mountains and the monument to 18th century military commander Nauryzbai Batyr near the town of Kaskelen, some 23 km (14 mi) west of Almaty, Kazakhstan, on June 23, 2013. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov)     

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If you’d been here several thousand years ago and looked up in the sky on a clear night, you’d have seen a very small, but very bright object flaring brilliantly some 1,500 light-years away. That would have been the massive supernova that gave birth to what is now the lovely and wispy Cygnus Loop Nebula. It’s not certain just when the blast would have been visible on Earth; it occurred 5,000 to 8,000 years ago and in any event, it would have taken 1,500 years for its light to reach us. What is certain though is that the Cygnus Loop—here captured by the cameras aboard NASA’s Galaxy Evolution explorer—is a stunner. The nebula extends more than three times the size of the full moon in the night sky, and is tucked next to one of the ‘swan’s wings’ in the constellation of Cygnus. The filaments of gas and dust visible here in ultraviolet light were heated by the shockwave from the supernova, which is still spreading outward from the original explosion.

To see more photographs from space check out Our Beautiful Planet: Images from Space by an Astronaut Photographer.

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Today marks the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year 2012, the Year of the Dragon. One of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, the dragon signifies good fortune and power. In the Chinese astrological cycle, this year is also associated with the element of water, which makes 2012 the Year of the Water Dragon -- an emblem of optimism and growth that comes around only once every 60 years. People around the world are ushering in this auspicious year with displays of fireworks, family get-togethers, temple visits, and street festivals. Collected below are images from several countries where revelers have been welcoming the arrival of the Water Dragon. [34 photos]

Thousands of people visit a lantern festival to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Dragon in Shanghai, on January 23, 2012. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

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The autumnal equinox took place on September 23, marking the end of summer and the start of fall across the northern hemisphere. Autumn is season of harvests, festivals, migrations, winter preparations, and of course, spectacular foliage. Around the north, people are beginning to feel a crisp chill in the evening air, leaves are reaching peak color, apples and pumpkins are being gathered, and animals are on the move. Collected here are some early images from this year's autumn -- more will come later as the season unfolds. [39 photos]

A Soviet-era statue called "The Diver" is seen with a garland of fall leaves on its head in Moscow's Gorky Park, on October 8, 2011. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

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