With all the awe-inspiring space images coming out these days, we sometimes need a reminder that science on a small scale can look just as great. Nikon's Small World photography contest is just such a reminder, and this year's winners are as mind-blowing as any nebula or solar explosion.

The winning images range from Dorit Hockman's adorable bat embryos and Dr. Michael John Bridge's trippy fruit fly eye to Charles Krebs' painful-looking stinging nettle. Too small to make out with the naked eye, the objects featured in these images come alive under massive magnifications. Some images are magnified up to 500x, but even a tenfold magnification can reveal a whole new world. Check the winners out in the slideshow below.

The contest has been running since 1978, and an archive of previous winners can be found here. Want to enter for next year's competition? Send in your entries by April 30, 2013.

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  • Nikon Small World - 20th Place

    20th Place Dorit Hockman Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience University of Cambridge Cambridge, United Kingdom Embryos of the species Molossus rufus (black mastiff bat) Brightfield

  • Nikon Small World - 19th Place

    19th Place Dr. Somayeh Naghiloo Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences University of Tabriz Tabriz, Iran Floral primordia of Allium sativum (garlic) Epi-Illumination

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 18th Place

    18th Place Dr. David Maitland www.davidmaitland.com Feltwell, United Kingdom Coral sand Brightfield 100x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 17th Place

    17th Place Charles Krebs Charles Krebs Photography Issaquah, Washington, USA Stinging nettle trichome on leaf vein Transmitted Light 100x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 16th Place

    16th Place Douglas Moore University Relations & Communications/Geology University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point Stevens Point, Wisconsin, USA Fossilized Turitella agate containing Elimia tenera (freshwater snails) and ostracods (seed shrimp) Stereomicroscopy 7x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 15th Place

    15th Place Andrea Genre Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology University of Turin Turin, Italy Section of a Coccinella (ladybug) leg Confocal 10x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 14th Place

    14th Place José R. Almodóvar Rivera University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, Biology Department Mayaguez Puerto Rico, USA Pistil of Adenium obesum Image Stacking 10x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 13th Place

    13th Place Dr. Diana Lipscomb Department of Biological Sciences George Washington University Washington, District of Columbia, USA Sonderia sp. (a ciliate that preys upon various algae, diatoms, and cyanobacteria) Nomarski Interference Contrast 400x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 12th Place

    12th Place Esra Guc École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Lausanne, Switzerland 3D lymphangiogenesis assay. Cells sprout from dextran beads embedded in fibrin gel Fluorescence, Confocal 200x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 11th Place

    11th Place Jessica Von Stetina Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA Single optical section through the tip of the gut of a Drosophila melanogaster larva expressing a reporter for Notch signaling pathway activity (green), and stained with cytoskeletal (red) and nuclear (blue) markers Confocal 25x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 10th Place

    10th Place Dr. Alvaro Migotto University of São Paulo Centro de Biologia Marinha São Paulo, Brazil Brittle star Stereomicroscopy, Darkfield 8x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 9th Place

    9th Place Geir Drange Asker, Norway Myrmica sp. (ant) carrying its larva Reflected Light, Image Stacking 5x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 8th Place

    8th Place Gerd A. Guenther Düsseldorf, Germany Pleurobrachia sp. (sea gooseberry) larva Differential Interference Contrast 500x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 7th Place

    7th Place Dr. Michael John Bridge HSC Core Research Facilities - Cell Imaging Lab University of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah, USA Eye organ of a Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) third-instar larvae Confocal 60x

  • NIkon Small World 2012 - 6th Place

    6th Place Marek Mis Marek Mis Photography Suwalki, Poland Cosmarium sp. (desmid) near a Sphagnum sp. leaf Polarized Light 100x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 5th Place

    5th Place Honorio Cócera-La Parra Museum of Geology, Department of Geology University of Valencia Valencia, Spain Cacoxenite (mineral) from La Paloma Mine, Spain Transmitted Light 18x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 4th Place

    4th Place Dr. W. Ryan Williamson Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Ashburn, Virginia, USA Drosophila melanogaster visual system halfway through pupal development, showing retina (gold), photoreceptor axons (blue), and brain (green) Confocal 1500x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 3rd Place

    3rd Place Dr. Dylan Burnette National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland, USA Human bone cancer (osteosarcoma) showing actin filaments (purple), mitochondria (yellow), and DNA (blue) Structured Illumination Microscopy (SIM) 63x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 2nd Place

    2nd Place Walter Piorkowski South Beloit, Illinois, USA Live newborn lynx spiderlings Reflected Light, Fiber Optics, Image Stacking 6x

  • Nikon Small World 2012 - 1st Place

    Dr. Jennifer L. Peters and Dr. Michael R. Taylor St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Memphis, Tennessee USA The blood-brain barrier in a live zebrafish embryo Confocal 20x

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