Capturing Joy at the End of a Turbulent Year

Images from the end of 2020 filled with wonder, exuberance and hope.
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ISS above a Christmas tree in Arlington, Virginia

This 13-second exposure captured the ISS as a streak of light in the night sky above a Christmas tree in Arlington, Virginia on Dec. 6.

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Abigail Malate, Staff Illustrator

(Inside Science) -- 2020 has been a challenging year the world over. We hope these pictures bring you joy this holiday season. Enjoy snapshots of a once-in-a-lifetime stellar event, healthcare workers celebrating a vaccine, and a cuddly baby panda getting a veterinary check-up -- all taken this month.

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The "Great Convergence" of Jupiter and Saturn, seen in Oria, Italy.

In the twilight over Oria, Italy shines what looks like one bright “Christmas star,” but zooming in, one sees that the star is the result of Jupiter and Saturn coming close together. The view is exceptionally rare -- it was almost 800 years ago when such a sight last occurred in the night sky. Amateur astrophotographer Giuseppe Donatiello snapped this photo of the “Great Convergence” on Dec. 21.

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Alberta nurses take a selfie after receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Nurses in Calgary, Alberta celebrate receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. These nurses were some of the first health-care workers to receive the vaccine in Calgary. Tanya Harvey, an ICU nurse, holds a camera up to take an exuberant group selfie.

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Santa in Marietta, Georgia, riding in a firetruck

Santa took to the streets in Marietta, Georgia earlier this month during their “2020 Santa Blitz” event. Here, he rides a firetruck decorated with garlands as he parades about the city spreading cheer. A city police officer is his chauffeur, and the pair is pictured following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for masking. The city of Marietta held the event in place of their annual tree lighting event for the holidays.

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ACC Championship game in Charlotte, North Carolina

For some, the holidays aren’t complete without a football game. In Charlotte, North Carolina, fans gathered at the Bank of America stadium to watch the ACC Championship game. Here, the crowd stays socially distanced as the Clemson Tigers warm up to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

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Xiao Qi Ji at a veterinary checkup

Xiao Qi Ji, who arrived in August of this year, is one of the Smithsonian Zoo’s newest giant panda cubs. Here he is at 3.5 months old being held for a checkup. Dr. Don Neiffer is pictured listening to the cub’s heart and lungs -- both of which were determined to be healthy.

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Abigail Malate is a graphic designer at the American Institute of Physics, which produces the editorially independent news service Inside Science.