Fireworks explode across the stadium as the petals of the Olympic Cauldron descend during the closing ceremony

Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Olympic conclusion

Fireworks explode across the stadium as the petals of the Olympic Cauldron descend on Aug. 12 during the closing ceremony of the 2012 Games in London. After more than two weeks of amazing athletic competitions, the athletes have departed for their home countries. For viewers who aren't ready for the spectacle to be over, there's good news: the London Paralympics is scheduled to begin later this month.

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Spice girls on top of cars

Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A spicy reunion

The Spice Girls — Melanie Chisholm, Victoria Beckham, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton and Geri Halliwell — reunite and perform atop British taxi cabs during the closing ceremony. British musical artists of all stripes marked the end of London 2012, deemed one of the most successful Olympics of modern times.

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Jessie J and Queen performing

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Pop stars and rock legends

Singer Jessie J performs alongside Roger Taylor of Queen for a rendition of "We Will Rock You" during the finale of the closing ceremony.

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Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Passing the flag

Eduardo Paes, mayor of Rio de Janeiro, waves the Olympic flag after the handoff from London Mayor Boris Johnson during the closing ceremony. The Brazilian city will host the 2016 Olympics — the first South American city to do so.

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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

Photos: London Olympics close with sparkle and verve
After more than 2 weeks of elite competition, the Summer Olympics conclude with a ceremony rich with pride and famous British sounds. After setting records, the