Best astronomy pictures of 2008

M81 (Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)

Last month saw a couple of roundups of the year’s best astronomy images. Phil Plait’s top ten focus more on scientific bad-assery — i.e., the pictures may not be beautiful in themselves, but what they represent is mindblowing (I blogged a couple of them myself at the time). Meanwhile, the Big Picture ran a Hubble advent calendar in December, revealing one new photo a day; many of the photos came courtesy of the Hubble Heritage Project and are extremely beautiful in and of themselves. Above, M81, a personal favourite of mine (credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA).