It’s that time of year again. It’s my favorite time of year, in fact. No, not the holiday season (although that’s nice too). It’s the end of year "best of" list time. Best songs of the year, best books, best new restaurants… I love these lists in all their permutations. As it pertains to my life as a photographer, there’s no shortage of "best photo" lists within all sorts of photographic specialties. Today I’d like to bring you a list courtesy of the editors of National Geographic. It’s their Best Space Photos of 2011 collection. I love the abstract expressionism of deep space images as well as the more human images from much closer to home that showcase man slipping the surly bonds. This gallery’s got ’em all, and I highly recommend it as a great place to begin your "best pictures of the year" investigations. But be warned: I’m sure to suggest plenty more of these great galleries of images over the coming weeks as well, so pace yourself for the long run.