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Another year has come and gone and with it hundreds of thousands of images have recorded the world's evolving history; moments in individual lives; the weather and it's affects on the planet; acts of humanity and tragedies brought by man and by nature. The following is a compilation - not meant to be comprehensive in any way - of images from the first 4 months of 2012. Parts II and III to follow this week. -- Paula Nelson ( 64 photos total)
Fireworks light up the skyline and Big Ben just after midnight, January 1, 2012 in London, England. Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Thames in central London to ring in the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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Victoria Mitchell of VIC clears the water steeple during the Womens 3000 Metre Steeple Open during day two of the Australian Athletics Championships at Lakeside Stadium on April 14, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. North Korean people hold up plastic flowers during an unveiling ceremony of two statues of former leaders Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-Sung [...]

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PERCHED PARROTS
PERCHED PARROTS: Parrots sat on German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she visited a bird park in Marlow, Germany, Tuesday. (Franzi Zoeger/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

JUNIOR ASTRONAUT
JUNIOR ASTRONAUT: A boy wore an astronaut costume in the parking lot of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., Tuesday. The space shuttle Discovery will go on display at the center. The shuttle was flown around Washington Tuesday; it will be towed to the center Thursday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

SICK BOY
SICK BOY: A boy sat up in his hospital bed in Guinea-Bissau Tuesday. (Andre Kosters/European Pressphoto Agency)

TOPSY-TURVY
TOPSY-TURVY: Benjamin Bailey helped to clean up his friend’s tornado-ravaged home in the Pinaire Mobile Home Park in Wichita, Kan., Monday. Severe weather tore through Kansas and other states over the weekend, killing several people. (Mike Hutmacher/the Wichita Eagle/Associated Press)

LAUGHING OUT LOUD
LAUGHING OUT LOUD: Nazir Haynesworth, 14 years old, laughed as he played in a fountain in Philadelphia’s Logan Circle Monday. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

A CLEAR VIEW
A CLEAR VIEW: A fan sat in the grandstand before the Champions League semifinal soccer match between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid started at the Allianz Arena in Munich Tuesday. (Marc Mueller/dpa/Zuma Press)

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Starting next month, NASA will begin delivering its four Space Shuttle orbiters to their final destinations. After an extensive decommissioning process, the fleet -- which includes three former working spacecraft and one test orbiter -- is nearly ready for public display. On April 17, the shuttle Discovery will be attached to a modified 747 Jumbo Jet for transport to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Virginia. Endeavour will go to Los Angeles in mid-September, and in early 2013, Atlantis will take its place on permanent display at Florida's Kennedy Space Center. Test orbiter Enterprise will fly to New York City next month. Gathered here are images of NASA's final days spent processing the Space Shuttle fleet. [35 photos]

In Orbiter Processing Facility-2 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the flight deck of space shuttle Atlantis is illuminated one last time during preparations to power down Atlantis during Space Shuttle Program transition and retirement activities, on December 22, 2011. Atlantis is being prepared for public display in 2013 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. (NASA/Jim Grossmann)

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