I'm a dental hygienist, pyrography artist, avid gardener, writer, vegetarian, world traveler, and many other things!
I came across these images and this contest when I was looking something up on Wikipedia for another hub I was doing. Needless to say, I have no idea anymore what it was I was looking for. In fact, I lost all interest in that other hub, and it's now waiting in the wings for when I tire of these images.
Every year since 2006 the Wikimedia Commons has held a Picture of the Year competition. All images are freely licensed, often with the only request being that images be credited to the photographers.
Images are collected from the "featured picture of the day" category at the end of each year, and viewers are allowed to vote for whichever images they like. The image with the most user votes wins the prestigious title of First Place in Picture of the Year.
Picture of the Year 2011 has not yet started, though photos are being processed.
In mid-August 2010 ESO Photo Ambassador Yuri Beletsky snapped this amazing photo at ESO’s Paranal Observatory. A group of astronomers were observing the centre of the Milky Way using the laser guide star facility at Ye. Attribution: photograph by Yuri Beletsky, available here.
The Paranal Observatory is located at an altitude of 2,635 meters, 120 km south of Antofagasta, Chile on the mountain called Cerro Paranal. It's operated by the European Southern Observatory, or ESO. The largest telescope at Paranal Observatory is made of four separate 8-meter-long telescopes, called the Very Large Telescope. When these four telescopes combine, they make up a fifth telescope called the Very Large Telescope Interferometer.
Stari Most (English: the "Old Bridge"), which connects the two banks of river Neretva, has been a symbol of Mostar for centuries. This view from north shows Helebija tower to the left and Tara tower to the right. It was made from the minaret of Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque. Attribution: photograph by Ramirez, available here.
The original Stari Most was an Ottoman empire bridge originally built sometime in the 16th century in the city of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It crossed the river Neretva, connecting two parts of the city. Unfortunately, after surviving for 427 years, the bridge was destroyed November 9, 1993 during the Croat-Bosniak War. The bridge seen here is a reconstructed version of the original, completed in 1994.
Sarychev Peak Volcano erupts June 12, 2009, on Matua Island. Attribution: photograph by NASA (public domain), available here.
Sarychev Peak volcano is what's termed a stratovolcano, or a conical volcano with many layers of lava and pumice built up over time. It covers almost the entire island of Matua in the Kuril Islands, Russia. The volcano erupted in 2009, and as the International Space Station passed overhead, astronauts were able to capture images of the event. The hole seen in the clouds surrounding the volcano is attributed to shock waves given off from the massive explosion.
The Lichtenstein Castle, near Lichtenstein, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Attribution: photograph by Donald, available here.
The site of this castle has quite a history dating back to 1200. The castle was destroyed twice; once in the Reichskriegs war of 1311, and again in 1381. The more modern land owner died and left the estate to his Nephew, Duke Wilhelm of Urach, who was inspired to build a castle on the site after reading Wilhelm Hauff's novel "Lichtenstein." The current castle was commissioned by the Duke of Urach, and was completed in 1842 in the Neo-Gothic style.
Horseshoe Bend, Arizona. Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located near the town of Page, Arizona. Attribution: photograph by Luca Galuzzi, available at www.galuzzi.it.
This interesting site is known to locals as "King Bend." It's about five miles downstream of Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam. It's right off US Route 89, about 1/2 mile hike from the roadway, and can be viewed from the cliff above and surrounding the formation. The overlook is 4,200 feet above sea level, with 1,000-foot cliffs setting it all off.
St Aubin's Cathedral (Belgium). Attribution: photograph by Luc Viatour, available at www.Lucnix.be.
This 18th century cathedral is built in the Late Baroque style, using exaggerated details to create grandeur and exuberance. Though totally devoid of colors, the fine details of the arches, domes, bas-reliefs, and swags of fruit and flowers adds a textural richness that may be lost had they been colored. Concealed behind a marble plaque at the High Alter is a casket containing the heart of Don Juan of Austria, Habsburg governor of the Spanish Netherlands, who died in 1578.
Red-eyed Tree Frog (''Agalychnis callidryas''), photographed near Playa Jaco in Costa Rica. Attribution: photograph by Carey James Balboa, available here.
The young red-eyed tree frogs are brown in color, and gradually begin to change into the more vibrant colors seen here. They also can vary their colors to some degree, dependent on their mood and the environment. They're great jumpers and spend most of their time in trees. Since they survive via camouflage, during the day they generally lay motionless, covering their blue sides with their back legs. They eat flies, moths, and crickets.
The coral fungus Clavaria zollingeri Lév. Specimen photographed in Babcock State Park, West Virginia, USA. Attribution: photograph by Dan Molter, available here.
Often called club fungi or coral fungi, the Clavarioid fungi form on the ground amongst decaying vegetation. This is common for Saprotrophic fungi, which get their sustenance from processing dead or decaying matter. Needless to say saprotrophs are very important within the ecosystem for clearing out and recycling dead matter. Some Clavaria form symbiotic relationships (called mycorrhiza) with the roots of trees, each giving the other the necessities of their livelihood. Though some species of Clavaria are tropical, their range is worldwide.
Male Agama Sinaita, Jordan. This species is common in deserts around the shores of the Red Sea. While in heat, the male turns striking blue to attract females. Attribution: photograph by Ester Inbar; original image available here.
This beautiful lizard is found in many arid countries, including Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Syria, UAE, Sudan, Ethiopia, and others. Growing up to 10 inches long, its thin tail may make up 2/3 of its total body length; they use it for climbing and running. Males become blue during the mating season, while females develop brown-red spots. They're active during daylight and like to eat insects and plants.
The chemical element bismuth as a synthetic made crystal. The iridescent surface is a very thin layer of oxidation. Beside it is a high purity (99.99 %) 1 cm3 bismuth cube for comparison. Attribution: photograph by Alchemist-hp, www.pse-mendelejew.de.
Bismuth is a brittle heavy metal with a naturally silver-pink hue; however, oxidation causes an iridescent tarnish made of many different colors. Elemental (naturally-occurring) bismuth is one of just a few substances that is more dense in its liquid state than in its solid state (water is the other famous one.) This image shows a lab-made bismuth crystal, which has finer stair step details than the naturally-occurring element. That said, it is a prime example of how the bismuth crystals form.
Dundasite (white) and Crocoite (red orange) from Dundas, Tasmania. Attribution: photograph by JJ Harrison, available here.
Crocoite (lead chromate) was named after the Greek word for "saffron" due to its orange-red color. These crystals are often found in quartz veins within granite, and alongside gold deposits. Dundasite (lead aluminum carbonate) is a rare mineral discovered somewhat recently in 1893. It commonly grows around crocoite and in lead deposits. Its color ranges from milky white to pale blue.
Blue bottle fly (Calliphora vomitoria ) Portrait, Austin's Ferry, Tasmania, Australia. 3.5:1 magnification. Attribution: photograph by JJ Harrison, available here.
Though not seen here, the abdomen of this blow fly species is bright blue, giving it its common name ("blue bottle"). When one fly detects food, it sends pheromones out to alert other flies in the area. Female flies lay their eggs in decaying meat or fecal matter, and in a matter of days the larvae hatch, eat, and grow to adulthood. They're important pollinators of goldenrod and skunk cabbage.
Young leopard charging. Photo taken at Rhino and Lion Park, Gauteng, South Africa. Photograph by Leo Za1, available here.
The leopard (Panthera pardus ) is the smallest member of the Panthera group of cats (the others are the tiger, lion, and jaguar.)
Due to hunting and loss of habitat, this large cat is now limited mostly to sub-Saharan Africa, though it used to range from Siberia to South Africa.
These felines are highly adaptable, can run up to 36 mph (58 kph), and are notoriously agile. They eat any animal they can catch, and have an unparalleled ability to carry heavy carcasses into trees.
© 2012 Kate P
Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on May 28, 2012:
I agree that it's difficult to choose a winner here; it's pretty subjective (like all art is.) Each image is pretty stunning, in my opinion!
Thanks for the great comments, everyone.
Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on May 28, 2012:
These are all remarkable in their own rights. I don't see how they can only choose one or a handful, whatever the case may be.
Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on March 01, 2012:
Absolutely terrific pictures. Thank you so much. :)
opticstoreonline from United States on February 15, 2012:
Hi Faceless39 amazing pictures. thanks for sharing
Joana e Bruno from Algarve, Portugal on February 13, 2012:
Hello, Faceless 39, absolutely amazing. I hadn't heard about this... The photos are unbelievable. I knew another view of the Lichtenstein Castle, but this photo is much better. Voted up.
Sueswan on February 12, 2012:
These are spectacuar photos. I cannot pick a favourite.
Voted up and awesome
Silwen from Europe on February 12, 2012:
Wonderful photos. Sometimes it is really hard to believe that such a beauty exist. Thank you for sharing.
Xavier Nathan from Isle of Man on February 12, 2012:
What a great hub with the most amazing images. I wouldn't be surprised if this goes viral. Thank you.
Verlie Burroughs from Canada on February 11, 2012:
Thank you for this gorgeous photo gallery Faceless39! What a great idea for a Hub. Really appreciate all the detailed info and attribution. Regards, snakeslane
catalystsnstars from Land of Nod on February 11, 2012:
Wow, most of these pictures take my breath away and make me want to travel more just to experience part of this. Thank you, for bringing this to us. And I'm sorry it took you away from your other research.
I'm especially fascinated by the bismuth.