On May 23, photographer Phil Hatcher-Moore saw Naneyan Lokopir, a 13-year-old in South Sudan, lying on the ground of a cholera treatment center. That same day in the U.K., Andrew Testa watched a man pray during a vigil for victims of the Manchester Arena bombing.
On Aug. 21, Meridith Kohut stood near children hovering over the casket of their baby cousin, who had been severely malnourished, in Venezuela. That day, Jim Urquhart pointed his lens out the window of an airplane, 40,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, where he caught a stunning view of the solar eclipse.
Images from those six moments and more stand out in a year of environmental disasters and polarizing elections, humanitarian crises and annual parades, mass shootings and awards shows. They couldn’t feel further from one another, yet a close look at these 100 pictures reveals a comforting web of similarity.
Here, TIME’s photo editors present an unranked selection of the 100 best images of the year.