Community: ArtPhotography

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Lightning storm in the Tortolita Mountain foothills, north of Tucson, Arizona, in the Sonoran Desert

Lightning strikes are common during the summer monsoon in southwestern US states and northwestern Mexico. In Arizona and New Mexico, powerful thunderstorms roll in most every afternoon from early July until mid-September. Here, in the Sonoran Desert north of Tucson, Arizona, severe weather over saguaro cactus makes for a dramatic scene.

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Comet NEOWISE over Vikos Gorge

Did the Earth part to show us this comet? Of course not, even if this image makes it seem that way. Pictured far in the background is Comet NEOWISE as it appeared about two weeks ago over northern Greece. Above the comet are many stars including the bright stars of the Big Dipper (also the Sorcerer, in Aztec mythology), an asterism that many people around the world used to find the naked-eye comet as it hovered in the northern sky over the past month. In the foreground is Vikos Gorge, the deepest gorge on Earth, relative to its width. The gorge was slowly created by erosion from the Voidomatis River over the past few million years. Capturing this image took a lot of planning, waiting, luck, braving high winds, and avoiding local wolves. Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) continues to fade and is now best visible through binoculars as it coasts back to the outer Solar System.

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A lava flow hits water as a tour boat passes, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

'Keep your distance' might be the mantra for 2020, but here at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the 50th state's 'Big Island,' it's always been good advice. Especially so for the passengers on this tour boat as they witness a red-hot lava flow hitting the chilly ocean with a tremendous explosion of steam.

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Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, Nevada

High in the Sierra Nevada, straddling the border between Nevada and California, you'll find the largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe—sometimes called Big Blue. Seventy-two miles in circumference, with an average depth of 1,000 feet, it has the sixth-largest volume of any lake in the US—only the Great Lakes are larger. For at least 6,000 years, the territory of the Washoe people centered around Lake Tahoe, but the arrival of non-native people in the 19th century led to a series of armed conflicts and eventual loss of land to farms and townships.

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NASA Prepares to Launch the Mars Rover Perseverance


Kalsoy Island, one of the Faroe Islands

The festival known as Ólavsøka spans several days, but officially July 29 is the big day of merrymaking in the Faroe Islands. What exactly are the Faroese people celebrating? Technically, they're observing the death of Saint Olaf. The Norwegian King Olaf II is said to have died in battle on this day in 1030. A century later, he was sainted by the Catholic Church.

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The Royal Canadian Mint has launched a new toonie to commemorate the legacy of B.C. Haida artist Bill Reid on the 100th anniversary of his birth.
New toonie features work of Haida artist Bill Reid | CBC News

Claude Monet, The Cliffs at Etretat, 1885.



Tamul waterfall in the state of San Luis Potosí, Mexico

Here in central Mexico, the Gallinas River spills into the Tampaón River gorge to create Tamul waterfall, renowned as a jewel of the country's wilderness. Both rivers offer great swimming near the falls, and boaters can float by on the Tampaón for close-up views. Both activities are best attempted between July and October, though: During wetter months, the falls converge into a thundering cataract as the Gallinas rises to form torrential rapids.

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Comet and Lightning Beyond Bighorn Mountains

Normally, Steamboat Point looks cool -- but not this cool. Every day, the iconic peak of the Bighorn Mountains is an interesting sight, in particular from US Highway 14 in Wyoming. On some rare days, the rocky vertical ridges look even more incredible when seen in front of a distant lightning storm. Earlier this month, though, something even more unusual happened -- the naked-eye Comet NEOWISE rose above it in the middle of the night. Just as a distant lightning storm was occurring in the background. Recognizing a rare opportunity, a determined astrophotographer spent a sleepless night capturing over 1400 images of this unusual triple conjunction. The featured image is among the best of them, with the foreground lit by the Moon off to the right. Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) is now headed back to the outer Solar System, destined to return only in about 6700 years.

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Welcome to Disko Bay near the town of Ilulissat, Greenland, where summer's midnight sun will dip just below the horizon for only about an hour and a half tonight. In fact, for several weeks in the period around the summer solstice, the sun doesn't set at all on Disko Bay. Technically, the 'midnight sun' occurs in places north of the Arctic Circle or south of the Antarctic Circle when the sun remains visible at the local midnight. This natural phenomenon lasts from April to August in the northern regions of Greenland. (The opposite effect, polar night, occurs during winter months when the sun does not rise above the horizon.)

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Fairytale NEOWISE

Comet dust falls through a twilight sky in this dream-like scene, but it's not part of a fairytale movie. Still, Castle Neuschwanstein, nestled in the Bavarian Alps, did inspire Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. Captured on July 20, the bright streak above the castle towers is likely a Perseid meteor. Though it peaks near mid-August, the annual summer meteor shower is active now. The meteor trail over the fairytale castle can be traced back to the shower's radiant in the heroic constellation Perseus off the top right of the frame. Perseid meteors are produced by dust from periodic Comet Swift-Tuttle. With its own broad dust tail now sweeping through northern skies the celestial apparition above the distant horizon is planet Earth's current darling, Comet NEOWISE.
Guisard (Los Cielos de America, TWAN)

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17th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest

Ivan Aivazovsky, The Ninth Wave, 1850.



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