Pillars of wispy green light -- also known as the Aurora Borealis -- are visible above the Inuvialuit hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories, Canada, just after midnight during the winter solstice on Dec. 21.

Photo: savillent/Flickr
Longest night of the year
Pillars of wispy green light — also known as the aurora borealis — are visible on Dec. 21 above the Inuvialuit hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk in Canada's Northwest Territories just after midnight during the winter solstice.
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Santa-clad participants of the Noale Santa Run ride a reindeer Vespa through the streets of Noale, Italy on Dec. 18.

Photo: Marco Secchi/Getty Images
All I want for Christmas is a reindeer Vespa
Santa-clad participants of the Noale Santa Run ride a reindeer Vespa on Dec. 18 through the streets of Noale, Italy. Close to 2,000 people participated in the third annual holiday-themed run, which is one of the largest non-competitive Santa runs in the country.
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Spectators observe a flock of silhouetted starlings coming home to roost on the Old Pier in Brighton, England on Dec. 21

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Sunset starlings signal winter's start
Spectators observe a flock of silhouetted starlings coming home to roost on Dec. 21 on the Old Pier in Brighton, England.
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A pair of seals eat fishy holiday treats at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia on Dec. 21.

Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Holiday feast fit for a seal
A pair of seals eat fishy holiday treats on Dec. 21 at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. Even though it's the official start of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, residents of the zoo received the winter-themed treats as part of an ongoing effort to encourage the animals to forage for food and help improve their hunting abilities.
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The Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft is rolled out by train to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 19.

Photo: Carla Cioffi/NASA
Early morning Soyuz rollout
The Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft is rolled out by train on Dec. 19 to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Dec. 21 evening launch of the Soyuz spacecraft transported Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of Russia, NASA Flight Engineer Don Pettit and ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers to the International Space Station.
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Workers place dead chickens into plastic bags after being killed at a poultry market on Dec. 21 in Hong Kong.

Photo: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
Bird flu precautions
Workers place dead chickens into plastic bags after the birds were killed at a poultry market on Dec. 21 in Hong Kong. About 17,000 chickens were culled at a poultry market on Wednesday after a chicken carcass tested positive for the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus.

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A Sumatran Tiger tears apart a wrapped Christmas present at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia on Dec. 21.

Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
A very big cat Christmas
A Sumatran tiger, the smallest species of tiger, tears apart a wrapped Christmas present on Dec. 21 at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. Sumatran tigers were classified as critically endangered in 2008.
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Residents of a village in the city of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines look amongst the wreckage of their homes on Dec. 21 after Typhoon Washi swept across the country.

Photo: Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images
Picking up the pieces after a devastating storm
Residents of a village in the city of Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines search the wreckage of their homes on Dec. 21 after Typhoon Washi swept across the country. Thousands of lives and homes were claimed by flash floods and landslides that hit rural communities.