Label: Photography

January 25, 2011


Today’s "Cool Photo of the Week" is actually a microphotograph (photographs of very tiny things that can only be seen through a microscrope).

You are looking directly into the face of a Southern Hawker dragonfly (Aeshna cyanea). These large (up to 3-inchs long), brightly colored dragonflies are often found near ponds or rivers, where they breed. They also travel quite widely - you may see one in your garden - and they seem to be curious, often flying close to you and hovering.

Can you spot the dragonfly’s eyes are in this picture? The eyes are actually the two biggest things in this photograph - the two large, grayish ovals below the yellow are the dragonfly’s compound eyes. These two main eyes actually contain up to 30,000 (that’s right, thirty-thousand!) tinier eyes, which turn the dragonfly into a born predator. These eyes are like balls, and allow the dragonfly to spot movement all around it, so much so that it has 360-degree vision! This helps the dragonfly sense even the tiniest movement, so that it can feed on insects in the air all around it.


Photo Credit: André Karwath/Wikimedia

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Cool Photo, Insects, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 19, 2011


Photographer Bence Máté describes the scene in today’s Cool Animal Photo of the Week: "I was photographing hummingbirds when I heard the sharp, alarming noise of the birds reacting to the presence of a predator. Sixty feet away from me this green-crowned brilliant (also known as Heliodoxa jacula, a type of hummingbird) was fearlessly attacking a small viper."

Máté took this photograph in Costa Rica, where about 50 of the 338 known species of hummingbirds, as well as tree-dwelling vipers, live in the tropical foliage.

This amazing image is a winner in Nature’s Best Photography magazine’s 2010 Best Photography contest. You can see more great nature photography on their website.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Cool Photo, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 4, 2011


OK, so I know we usually only highlight one special science or nature photo each week. But, this is such a spectacular sight, we just have to show you.


People in Europe and the Middle East were treated to a partial solar eclipse when the sun rose this morning. Because the moon was covering 85% of the sun, the sun rose as a crescent. This is not something that you see everyday!


This photo was taken by Peter Rosen in Stockholm, Sweden. There are many more amazing images at


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(6) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Astronomy, Cool Photo, Photography, Eclipse   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 3, 2011

This is a photograph of galaxy NGC 1275, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Though this galaxy is 230 million light-years away, it is one of the closest to our own Milky Way galaxy. The thin red strings surrounding the galaxy are cool gases, as compared to the white hot - 100-million-degrees Fahrenheit! – gas in the center.



Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration; Acknowledgment: A. Fabian (Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, UK)


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Astronomy, Cool Photo, Photography, Stars, Hubble Telescope   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 16, 2010


What do you think the snake in this picture is doing?

If you said she’s trying to bite someone or something, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. If you said she is smelling the air around her, you got it it right! Snakes use their tongues to smell. She is flicking her tongue in the air because she’s looking for prey, or perhaps checking to see if there are predators nearby.

This is a European Grass Snake (Natrix natrix), sometimes called the Ringed Snake or Water Snake. This female is almost three-feet long (as tall as a first grader), but she is a non-venomous snake. It is often found near water and feeds almost exclusively on amphibians.


Photo: Wilder Kaiser 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Cool Photo, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 30, 2010

Every year, Nikon hosts a photomicrography competition called "Small World." ("Photomicrography" is in our Science Dictionary if you’d like to look it up!). just published six incredible super-closeups of bug eyes (like this one, which is the eye of a common house fly). Click on the link and check these out - they are both creepy and really gorgeous.


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Cool Photo, Insects, Photography, Photomicrography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 18, 2010

Who doesn’t love trees? A walk in the woods, the sounds hushed as your footsteps are alternately muffled by the carpet of old fallen leaves underfoot or crackling through the recently-fallen dry leaves of autumn,  slants of sun filtering through the branches high overhead, is one of my favorite activities not only in the fall, but at any time of year.

Trees are uniquely designed organisms with multiple survival mechanisms that allow them to live far longer than most other living things. You only see the top half a tree in the forest. The other half is the root system and it lies hidden underground. There are two main types of trees:  deciduous and conifers. Oaks and maples and many other broadleaf trees are called deciduous trees. They usually drop their leaves in the autumn. Pines, spruce,fir and others grow cones and are called conifers.  They keep their leaves and shed only a few of the oldest all year long.

There’s an excellent online story today at called The Oldest Trees on the Planet, which includes a slideshow of 12 trees that are each thousands of years old. This photo essay is full of the kind of WOW! moments that I love to share with kids…..for example,  there is a photo of a tree that, at 6,615 tons, is the heaviest living organism on earth. Another one was just a sapling approximately 3,500 years ago, during the Bronze Age! Kids will be fascinated by the photographs of these trees and their stories.

Coincidentally,  last night we were looking at an incredible book called The Life and Love of Trees. Photographer Lewis Blackwell (who is also the head of creative development at Getty Images) worked with a group of internationally known photographers to document trees in all their majesty and glory. The result is an absolutely stunning book that is very moving, as well. I have taken many, many photographs of trees, but these are particularly artistic and capture the majesty of these forest giants as successfully as any collection that I’ve ever seen. 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Earth Science Books, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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