The best 25 pictures of the year.

This is the time of the year for the very bests, top 25, top 100, etc. I don’t usually follow those lists, but I’d like to share some of the images that this year really made me stop and marvel at the world, sometimes in joy, most often in horror. Here they are:

A monstrous dust storm (Haboob) roared through Phoenix, Arizona in July. Source:

Firefighters of Ladder Company 4 — which lost seven men on 9/11 — perched together on their aerial ladder, watching a news bulletin in Times Square declaring that Osama bin Laden was dead on May 2. Source:

Facebook played an extremely important role in the uprisings throughout the Middle East. Source:

84-year-old Dorli Rainey was pepper sprayed during a peaceful march in Seattle, Washington. She would have been thrown to the ground and trampled, but luckily a fellow protester and Iraq vet was there to save her. (Joshua Trujillo /

Australian Scott Jones kisses his Canadian girlfriend Alex Thomas after she was knocked to the ground by a police officer’s riot shield in Vancouver, British Columbia. Canadians rioted after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins. (Getty Images / Rich Lam)

A woman rebel fighter supporter fires an AK-47 rifle as she reacts to the news of the withdrawal of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces from Benghazi on March 19. (Reuters / Goran Tomasevic)

An aid worker using an iPad captures an image of a dead cow’s decomposing carcass in Wajir near the Kenya-Somalia border on July 23. (Reuters / Stringer)

A distressed bride attempts suicide in China after her fiance abruptly called off their marriage. Still in her wedding gown, she tried to kill herself by jumping out of a window of a seventh floor building. Right as she jumped, a man managed to catch and save her.  (Reuters / China Daily)

Ras Lanuf, Libya. March 11, 2011 (Yuri Kozyrev – NOOR for TIME)
A member of the pro-Kremlin youth movement Stal (Steel) wears a Darth Vader mask at a rally in downtown Moscow, Dec. 6, 2011.
A member of the pro-Kremlin youth movement Stal (Steel) wears a Darth Vader mask at a rally in downtown Moscow. (Sergey Ponomarev / AP)

A wave approaches Miyako City from the Heigawa estuary in Iwate Prefecture after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the area March 11, 2011. The earthquake, the most powerful ever known to have hit Japan, combined with the massive tsunami, claimed more than 15,800 lives, devastated many eastern coastline communities, and triggered a nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station.(Reuters/Mainichi Shimbun)

Debris crushed a car outside the Christchurch Catholic Cathedral after an earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand, on Tuesday, February 22, 2011. The 6.3-magnitude quake hit at the height of a busy workday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing dozens of people in one of the country’s worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/NZPA, David Wethey)

Cargo containers strewn about by the recent tsunami in Sendai, northern Japan, on March 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

Robonaut 2 (R2) waits inside the electromagnetic interference chamber at Johnson Space Center following tests that ensure the robot’s electronic systems won’t cause problems for other important systems at the International Space Station. Humanoid robot R2 journeyed to the space station onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery during the STS-133 mission, conducting tests. NASA hopes to eventually build a robot helper suitable to assist humans in complex tasks in space or on Earth. (NASA)

A levee protects a home surrounded by floodwater from the Yazoo River, on May 18, 2011 near Vicksburg, Mississippi. The flooded Mississippi River was forcing the Yazoo River to top its banks where the two rivers meet near Vicksburg causing towns and farms upstream on the Yazoo to flood. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Karren, part of a group called the Pujie Girls, demonstrates planking, a recent fad where participants take photos of themselves lying face down in unusual locations, such as here, outside Taiwan’s National Theater in Taipei, on May 25, 2011. (Reuters/Nicky Loh)

A Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier stands in line during a rehearsal of the Independence Day ceremony in Juba, Sudan, on July 5, 2011. On July 9, the Republic of South Sudan declared its independence, creating the newest nation in the world — the 193rd nation to join the United Nations. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

A leopard attacks a forest guard at Prakash Nagar village near Salugara, on the outskirts of Siliguri, India,on July 19, 2011. The leopard strayed into the village area and mauled several villagers, including three guards, before being caught by forest officials, according to news reports. The leopard, which suffered injuries caused by knives and batons, died later in the evening at a veterinary center. The forest guard being attacked was also injured. (AP)

Riot police stand covered with paint thrown by demonstrators trying to reach La Moneda presidential palace on the second day of a national strike in Santiago, Chile, Thursday August 25, 2011. Chileans marched Thursday, demanding profound changes in the country’s heavily centralized and privatized form of government. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

A picture of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung decorates a building in the capital Pyongyang, early October 5, 2011. North Korea appeared to make small, tightly-controlled steps toward the West in 2011, including an agreement with the Associated Press to set up the first permanent text and photo bureau operated by a Western news organization in the capital of Pyongyang.(Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

Libya’s new regime forces fire their weapons at fighters loyal to fugitive strongman Muammar Qaddafi as a comrade plays a guitar during a battle in Sirte on October 10, 2011, in a drive to control Qaddafi’s hometown after a month-long siege.(Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

A multiple-exposure image of Novak Djokovic of Serbia, as he serves during the men’s singles match against Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London, England, on November 25, 2011.(Michael Regan/Getty Images for Barclays)

Vehicles are submerged at the Honda factory in Ayutthaya province, on November 14, 2011. Clean-up work was underway at four industrial estates in Thailand’s central Ayutthaya province as water has receded after devastating floods, and some factories were already back at work, officials said. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

A worker in scuba gear dressed as Santa Claus greets spectators during an aquarium show in Bangkok. Though most of its people are Buddhists, Thailand celebrates Christmas as a festival—often with Santa. Damir Sagolj—Reuters.
Indian army soldiers in camouflage take part in exercise “Sudarshan Shakti” at Bugundi in Rajasthan state’s Barmer desert near the India Pakistan border, India. AP
Related, but unrelated; if you like lists Time Magazine has the Top 10 of Everything organized in 54 different lists. Make sure you have plenty of time before you click on this link.