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Image of the Day: June 2014

Image of the Day Archive

Milky Way Above Natural Bridges National Monument

(Image credit: Manish Mamtani/US Department of the Interior)

For older Image of the Day pictures, please visit the Image of the Day archives.

Above: The majestic sandstone bridges of Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah invite you to ponder the power of water in a landscape usually defined by its absence. Hang around after dark for a view of the landscape that few ever see.

Located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of the Four Corners boundary of southeast Utah, Natural Bridges was declared a National Monument in 1908. The park’s three bridges are named Kachina, Owachomo and Sipapu in honor of the Native Americans that once made this area their home. A natural bridge is formed through erosion by water flowing in the streambed of the canyon.

Here, the night skies are as awe-inspiring as the bridges. Some of the darkest night skies in the United States are in Natural Bridges National Monument. In 2007, the International Dark-Sky Association named Natural Bridges the first International Dark-Sky Park, which is a designation that recognizes that the park has some of the darkest and clearest skies in all of the United States. [Related: 6 Stellar Places for Skywatching in the US]

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Majestic Emperors

Emperor Penguins in Antarctica

(Image credit: Glenn Grant, National Science Foundation)

Emperor penguins in Antarctica create a picture perfect line for the camera.

Emperor penguins are the largest of all penguins, with some measuring up to 42 inches (115 centimeters) tall and weighing up to 84 pounds (38 kilograms). These penguins can dive to depths of 1,800 feet (550 meters) on a single breath of air — sometimes holding their breath for up to 20 minutes. [Related: Photos of Flightless Birds - All 18 Penguin Species]

Get Lost in the Wilderness

The Red Cloud Peak Wilderness Study Area

(Image credit: Bob Wick, BLM California)

The Red Cloud Peak Wilderness Study Area is located in Hinsdale County, Colorado. The region contains majestic peaks, alpine tundra and scenic vistas. Lower elevations are heavily forested, and there are several rock glacier formations, alpine lakes and streams in the area.

The Wilderness Study Area is home to many wildlife species, including red-tailed hawks, prairie falcons, doves, quail, songbirds, mule deer, rock squirrels, jackrabbits and several fox species. Visitors to the region can enjoy a variety of activities, including hiking, backpacking, camping, mountain climbing, horseback riding and fishing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. [Related Gallery: One-of-a-Kind Places on Earth]

Stunning View from Orbit

Banks Peninsula From Space

(Image credit: ESA/NASA)

European astronaut Alexander Gerst snapped this incredible photo of the Banks Peninsula, which is located on the east coast of New Zealand, from the International Space Station. Gerst is currently a member of the space station's Expedition 40 crew.

Gerst, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev launched to the International Space Station on May 28, 2014. The trio will spend more than 5 months living and working in space. [Related Gallery: 101 Stunning Images from Orbit]


Fishing Cat at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

(Image credit: Janice Sveda, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

This energetic fishing cat lives at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. In the wild, these animals can be found in southwest India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, China, and countries of the southern Himalayas.

Fishing cats are strongly tied to densely vegetated areas near water, in marshes, mangroves, rivers and streams. These felines have long, stocky bodies, relatively short legs, broad heads, round ears and short tails. Fishing cats typically have olive-gray fur with black stripes and a row of black spots, according to the National Zoo. [Related: Ridiculously Cute Photos of Mother Cats and Kittens]

Brown Bear Party In Alaska

Brown Bears in Alaska

(Image credit: Douglas Croft/US Department of the Interior)

You will be hard pressed to find more brown bears in one photo than this one from Katmai National Park in Alaska.

Formerly known as Katmai National Monument, the area was established in 1918 to protect the volcanically devastated region surrounding Mount Katmai and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Today, Katmai National Park and Preserve remains an active volcanic landscape, but it also protects 9,000 years of human history, as well as important habitats for salmon and the thousands of brown bears that feed on them.

Brooks Falls, seen here, is one of the best places in the world to watch brown bears hunt, because it is one of the first streams in the region where bright, energetic, and pre-spawned salmon are available to bears. Early in the salmon run, Brooks Falls creates a temporary barrier to migrating salmon, resulting in a particularly successful fishing spot for bears. It also happens to be a particularly good spot for spotting brown bears. [Related Gallery: Beastly Bears]

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Solar Tempest

X-Class Solar Flare - June 10, 2014

(Image credit: NASA/SDO/Goddard/Wiessinger)

The sun unleashed two strong solar flares this morning, producing a pair of powerful X-class solar flares that could interfere with radio communications on Earth, according to the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.

X-class flares are the strongest type of solar eruptions, with M-class flares being more moderate and C-class storms being the weakest type.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of the solar flare at 7:41 a.m. EDT. [Related: 6 Stellar Places for Skywatching in the US]

Recreating History

Paratroopers Commemorate D-Day Anniversary

(Image credit: U.S. Air Force/U.S. Department of Defense)

A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft dropped American and international paratroopers on June 8, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France. More than 700 paratroopers from the United States, France, Germany, England and the Netherlands participated in the re-enactment of the historic airdrop over the historic French town of Chef-du-Pont. [Related: 10 Epic Battles that Changed History]

Pretty Bird

Macaw Feathers

(Image credit: Santosh Shanmuga, Duke University)

This colorful display is a close-up view of the feathers of a scarlet macaw (Ara macao). The photo highlights the macaw's shimmery plumes and the bird's spectacular beauty.

Santosh Shanmuga, a student in the Laboratory of Receptor Biology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, snapped the artistic image in December 2009, and submitted it as part of a 2010 photo contest called "Envisioning the Invisible." [Related: Images of a Clever Parrot]

Happy Friday!

Short-Eart Elephant Shrew

(Image credit: Clyde Nishimura, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

This adorable creature is a short-eared elephant shrew that was born May 8 at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. These tiny mammals weigh less than 1.5 ounces (0.09 pounds) at birth, according to zookeepers.

The short-eared elephant shrew is the smallest of the 17 living species of elephant shrew. The critters get their name from their noses, which resemble the trunk of an elephant. [Related Gallery: World's Cutest Baby Wild Animals]

Paddling Through Magnificent Lake Mead

Paddling Through Magnificent Lake Mead

(Image credit: Cheryl Hobbs/US Department of the Interior)

Father’s Day wasn’t the only big event this past weekend. National Get Outdoors Day was on Saturday, and one intrepid paddler celebrated the holiday in style, capturing a gorgeous photo of Lake Mead from her canoe.

The 7th annual National Get Outdoors Day was meant to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun across the nation. Participants from federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and the recreation industry teamed up to offer opportunities for families to experience the best hiking, rafting and camping that the country's national parks have to offer.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which stretches across Nevada and Arizona, is the perfect place to get out and play. The park offers year-round boating, fishing, hiking, photography, picnicking and sightseeing. It is also home to thousands of desert plants and animals that are adapted to survive where rain is scarce and temperatures can soar.

The park is hosting a Selfie Scavenger Hunt all summer long. Take a selfie at 10 landmarks, and then share the photos on social media using hashtag #MeadSelfie or #MohaveSelfie. The best photos will be featured on the National Park Service website.

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Live Science Staff
For the science geek in everyone, Live Science offers a fascinating window into the natural and technological world, delivering comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything from dinosaur discoveries, archaeological finds and amazing animals to health, innovation and wearable technology. We aim to empower and inspire our readers with the tools needed to understand the world and appreciate its everyday awe.