Image of the Day Archives
Above: This majestic photo of the bright moon over the Atlantic Ocean was submitted by reader Scott MacNeill, who captured the stunning scene on one of the last nights of summer. MacNeill snapped the photo from Brenton Point in Newport, R.I., as the crisp autumn air wafted over the water.
"I sat on this cliff for about an hour with the wind in my hair mesmerized by the beautiful blue-grey moonlight casting shadows on the cliffs that danced with the sway of the tides," MacNeill told LiveScience in an email. "Welcome Autumn!" [Related: 5 Odd Facts About Fall]
Preserving the pristine
The refuge is located along 50 miles (80 kilometers) of Maine's coastline, and consists of eleven divisions between the towns of Kittery and Cape Elizabeth. The 5,400-acre (22-square kilometer) refuge was created to protect salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Major habitat types present on the land include forested uplands, dunes, coastal meadows, tidal salt marshes and the distinctive rocky coast, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior. [Related: Amazing Ecology - Award-Winning Photos of Wildlife]
A coral refuge
Higher than normal ocean temperatures damage algae that grows within the coral's tissue, causing the corals to turn white in a phenomenon known as "coral bleaching."
While coral bleaching is increasing globally, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, have not observed bleaching in the Gulf of Eliat. The scientists suggest the Gulf of Eliat is a unique refuge for coral reefs because of a "warm water barrier" that exists at the southern Red Sea, allowing only heat-tolerant genotypes of corals to enter from the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea. [Related Gallery: Colorful Corals of the Deep Barrier Reef]
Up, up and away!
Last month, the first balloon campaign was launched to study Earth's atmosphere and environment. The remotely controlled atmospheric balloons can carry up to 1.75 tons of equipment into the stratosphere, and are capable of reaching an altitude of 26 miles (42 kilometers). The balloons also do not require any energy or fuel, and are fully recoverable following their flights. [Related Infographic: Earth's Atmosphere Top to Bottom]
Eagle Soars at Shiloh
Pigs of the sea
Sea pigs live in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, and are typically found at depths of more than 3,300 feet (1,000 meters). Some related species may be found in shallower waters near Antarctica. Sea pigs feast on detritus that falls from the ocean surface by extracting organic particles from mud on the ocean floor. [Related: Extreme Life on Earth: 8 Bizarre Creatures]
Let there be light
Members of the OIST's Light-Matter Interactions Unit are investigating the interplay between light and optical nanofibers in order to develop highly sensitive biosensors. [Related: Bionic Humans: Top 10 Technologies]
By the setting sun
The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), located in Washington, D.C., conducts scientific research and development for the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps. The facility, which opened in 1923, was informally proposed by Thomas Edison, who commented on the need for a government research facility in an article published in the New York Times Magazine in 1915.
"The Government," Edison said, "should maintain a great research laboratory … In this could be developed … all the technique of military and naval progression without any vast expense."
The NRL receives research and development grants from a variety of government agencies, including DARPA, but does not receive directly funding under the federal government's budget. [Related: 7 Declassified Military & CIA Secrets]
March of the Emperor Penguins
Unlike other penguin species, Emperors breed during the Antarctic winter, trekking for miles across sea ice to large breeding colonies. Disappearing sea ice due to climate change is destroying penguin habitats, hampering breeding and affecting the birds' source of food. As a result, Emperor Penguins are currently under consideration for inclusion in the U.S. Endangered Species Act. [Related Images: A Gallery of Pudgy Penguins]
Solitude at Hole in the Rock
Located in central Montana, the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument is home to a spectacular array of plant life, wildlife, unique geological features, endless recreational opportunities and several historically and culturally important areas.
The monument was designated to protect the Missouri Breaks, a series of badlands, which are areas that have been severely eroded. At the Missouri Breaks, visitors will see rock outcroppings, steep bluffs and grassy plains. The 149-mile (240-kilometer) Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River flows through the monument.
Access to Hole in the Rock, pictured above, first requires a multi-day trip down the Upper Missouri Wild and Scenic River. This is the same route, albeit downstream, that Lewis and Clark travelled on their voyage of discovery across the western United States.
Follow OurAmazingPlanet @OAPlanet, Facebook & Google+.
Follow the Yellow River
A recent study found that the Yellow River transports large quantities of sediment from northern Tibet to the Mu Us desert in Inner Mongolia. The study, published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, suggests that the river contributes a significant volume of material to the Chinese Loess Plateau, a sprawling highland area located in the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River that has formed thick deposits over the past 2.5 million years. [Related: The World's Longest Rivers]
All hail the queen
In addition to its bluish hue, the Victoria Crowned Pigeon has several features that distinguish it from the pigeons that roam around New York City: It has a distinctive, maroon breast, a crest of feathers with white tips, and bright red irises. The Victoria Crowned Pigeon is the largest of all living pigeons, and can even stand as tall as a turkey. [Related: 10 Amazing Things You Didn't Know about Animals]
Frozen in time
The Afar region sits at the intersection of three tectonic plates, which are all spreading apart. As the plates tear away from each other, parts of the Earth's crust fractures and mantle rocks beneath the crust melt from lowered pressure, which creates magma. [Related - Amazing Images: Volcanoes from Space]
Among the mangroves
The Sundarbans is home to the endangered Bengal tiger, sharks, crocodiles, freshwater dolphins and nearly 200 species of birds. In this satellite photo, the Sundarbans appear deep green, surrounded by agricultural lands to the north, which appear lighter green. The towns in the photo appear tan, amid the network of blue streams. The photo was created by merging observations taken by the Landsat 7 satellite in November 1999 and November 2000. [Related Images: One-of-a-Kind Places on Earth]
Lightning Strikes Over California's Alabama Hills
In the Alabama Hills Recreation Area, one intrepid photographer took an amazing photo of lighting striking over the park's famous rock formations. Despite their name, the Alabama Hills are not actually in Alabama, but about 200 miles (321 kilometers) north of Los Angeles. The Alabama Hills are a range of hills, so to speak, and include rock formations near the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The Alabama Hills were named after the CSS Alabama, a Confederate battleship. Confederate sympathizers in the hills named their mining claims after the storied Civil War ship. Eventually the name spread to the entire hilly range. A nearby mining district, mountain pass and mountain peak were named after the USS Kearsarge, which sunk the Alabama in 1864.
In the Alabama Hills today, you'll find a different kind of history — ancient rocks. One kind of rock here is a volcanic rock that is 150 million to 200 million years old. The hills are also home to an 82 million- to 85 million-year-old rock that in many locations in the park has weathered into large potato-shaped boulders, many of which stand on end. Dozens of natural arches are also found in the Alabama Hills.
Follow OurAmazingPlanet @OAPlanet, Facebook & Google+.
It's the little things
In mid-October, three varieties of Partula snail will be released in Tahiti: Partula affinis, Partula nodosa, and Partula hyalina. These snails were bred at zoos around the world, including Edinburgh Zoo and London Zoo in the United Kingdom, Thoiry Zoo in France, and Detroit Zoo in the United States.
In this photo, a snail keeper at the Edinburgh Zoo shows off a type of snail called Partula affinis, which is one of the smallest varieties of Partula snail. This tiny creature grows to be less than an inch (1 cm) when it is fully grown. [Related: Amazing Mollusks: Images of Strange & Slimy Snails]
Diamond in the rough
This image shows one of the new species, Baconia katieae. While many groups of beetles are known for their spectacular colors, researchers are still unsure what purposes the eye-catching hues may serve. [Related: 101 Animal Shots You'll Go Wild Over]
Arctic Sea Ice
African hunting dogs are currently endangered, and it is estimated that there are less than 5,500 remaining in the wild. As such, the new puppy's arrival at the Edinburgh Zoo is seen as an important achievement for conservation.
"We are all really excited about the arrival of this puppy," Darren McGarry, head of living collections at the Edinburgh Zoo, said in a statement. "Hunting dogs, like many other pack animals, are very difficult to breed successfully."
Zookeepers will determine the sex of the puppy in two weeks, when it receives its first major health check. For now, the newborn already seems to be comfortable in its surroundings. "It's very bold for such a young age and we've often spotted it tugging along joints of meat that are twice its size," McGarry said. "All of the dogs have been seen feeding it and it looks like an established member of the pack." [Related: Images of the 500 Cutest Animals]
Fall Colors in Canyonlands National Park
Fall is a special, fleeting time of year, when the weather turns colder and the daylight hours grow shorter. Those who venture into national parks at this time are rewarded with views that only come once a year. At many parks, this involves leaf peeping, but in Canyonlands National Park, no leaves are required to see the reds and oranges of autumn.
At Canyonlands the sunlight paints a colorful landscape across the carved sedimentary rock. Canyonlands preserves one of the last, relatively undisturbed areas of the Colorado Plateau, a geological province that encompasses much of the Colorado River. Located in southeastern Utah, the park is an explorer's paradise full of canyons, mesas and deep river gorges, all part of a unique desert ecosystem.
Rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers themselves. These areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, but each offers different opportunities for sightseeing and adventure.
Canyonland's beauty is no secret. On average 440,039 people visited the park each year. Hikers, mountain bikers, backpackers and four-wheelers all enjoy the rugged, remote trails within the park. So grab a jacket, and get out and explore.
A year later
The storm caused more than 100 deaths, and was one of the costliest natural disasters on record in the U.S.
This photo, taken on January 13, 2013, shows some of the devastation in Seaside Heights, N.J., where the iconic Casino Pier Star Jet roller coaster remained submerged in the sea 75 days after Sandy struck the area. [Related: On the Ground: Hurricane Sandy in Images]
Canyon of fire
The scorching canyon traces the path where magnetic fields held the filament aloft before the eruption. Researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., stitched together two days of data from the Solar Dynamics Observatory to create a short video of the immense solar phenomenon. [See Video of the Sun's 'Canyon of Fire']
Boo at the zoo
Sango is a 1-year-old male who arrived from the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Tex., in July. The lion cub spent the past few months in mandatory quarantine, away from the eyes of the public. This week, Sango made his debut at the zoo, joining his mate, Sabi, in Predator Ridge. [Related - Boo at the Zoo: Animals Get Their Spook On]