The month of December brought many new developments in the study of space and with it even more astonishing images. The cosmic universe got into the holiday spirit as dwarf planet Pluto was decked out in red and green and a rare full moon fell on Christmas day for the first time since 1977.
Just in time for the release of the movie "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens," NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shared an image of what looks like a cosmic, double-bladed lightsaber in a galaxy not so far, far away.
A new set of astronauts headed to the International Space Station for a six-month mission, as well. Crew members Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA, and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) successfully arrived aboard the Soyuz TMA-19M as part of Expedition 46.
Also, in a dramatic spaceflight first, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket nailed a pivotal landing this month when it soared back to Cape Canaveral and landed safely near its launch pad.
Click through the gallery above to see the most incredible space photos from the past four weeks, and be sure to check back next month for our first 2016 selection of more stunning cosmic photography.
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