Bing Wallpaper Gallery
Aug 24, 2021
Surf s always up in Paia
Old surfboards never die, at least not here, just outside the town of Paia, on Maui, Hawaii. Local resident Donald Dettloff constructed this fence beginning back in 1990 from over 600 discarded boards, most of which were either donated or salvaged from local junk and vintage stores. Dettloff originally wired some of his own boards to his fence to keep them from blowing away in a hurricane. Now the colorful display is a local landmark and even caught the attention of Guinness World Records for being the largest surfboard collection.
Aug 23, 2021
A little blue
If you want to see a little blue heron in its natural habitat, head to the swamps, tidal flats, and lake marshes of the US Gulf Coast, the Caribbean Islands, and Central America—and bring your patience. These herons keep a low profile, and often sit so still while hunting, they can be hard to spot. The adults develop deep blue plumage, sometimes sporting purple feathers on their heads, and tiptoe around the shoreline on green legs. The chicks are born snowy white, which scientists suggest is a survival adaptation to help them blend in with cattle egrets and snowy egrets—both species with bright white feathers—to enjoy the added safety of being in a large group.
Aug 22, 2021
A wild, craggy corner of the United States
The sun is setting here on the west coast of Washington state"s rugged Olympic Peninsula, where more than 3,000 square miles of marine waters are protected as part of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Wondering where exactly we are? Look at a map of the United States and draw your finger up the West Coast until it ends where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets the Pacific Ocean. Those final 135 miles of shoreline form the landward boundary of the sanctuary, which also extends seaward 25 to 50 miles.
Aug 21, 2021
Ambassadors of the airwaves
Today we"re visiting the Petit Minou Lighthouse on the coast of northwest France to mark the relationship between lighthouses and the 20th-century technology of amateur radio, commonly known as "ham" radio. The International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW) is an event set up every August by a group of amateur radio operators from nearly 100 countries. Activities for this ILLW weekend are organized online with individual events held at various lighthouses around the world, where ham radio operators gather to broadcast and engage with fellow enthusiasts. The aim of these gatherings is to not only foster goodwill for ham radio around the world, but also to promote awareness of lighthouse preservation and restoration, and to honor the legacy these solitary structures have had on our collective maritime heritage.
Aug 20, 2021
Signs of life in the Empty Quarter
An unlikely tree stands amid the seemingly endless dunes of the Rub" al Khali desert in the Arabian Peninsula. The Rub" al Khali, meaning "Empty Quarter" in Arabic, is a vast sea of sand. Spreading across 250,000 square miles, it"s the largest area of continuous sand in the world, covering most of southeastern Saudi Arabia, with smaller portions in Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. One of the driest places on Earth, almost no one lives in the Rub" al Khali, and much of the desert remains unexplored. Some of the dunes tower more than 800 feet, and the depressions in between—called sabkhas—can be so soft that vehicles, camels, and people can easily become stuck.
Aug 19, 2021
Happy World Photography Day!
What"s the best thing to do when you come face-to-face with a giant manta ray? Take a photo of course, and then share your creation with the rest of the world, especially on World Photography Day, celebrated each August 19. As this photographer can attest, a lot of work goes into taking a great photo. There"s more to it than having mastery of your equipment and a willingness to go on the hunt for the perfect shot. You also must be ready for a magic moment like this one, so when that amazing shot does present itself, you"re ready to capture it.
Aug 18, 2021
Pearl of the Adriatic
Jutting out into the sparkling Adriatic Sea, the medieval city of Dubrovnik in southern Croatia displays its centuries-old charm. Here at the heart of the city is the Old Town, paved with limestone and surrounded by medieval walls that encircle its historic core. Visitors can walk along the walls, which stretch over 6,000 feet and were built to defend Dubrovnik from pirates and other unwelcome guests during the Middle Ages. Dotted by fortifications, bastions, and towers, the walls offer breathtaking views of the brilliant blue waters of the Adriatic on one side, and the Old Town"s distinctive terra-cotta roofs on the other.
Aug 17, 2021
Preserving more than 35,000 acres of prime New Jersey highland wilderness, Wawayanda State Park brushes up against the state"s border with New York. The park"s name comes from a transliteration of the Indigenous Lenape people"s word for the area, said to mean "winding water" or "water on the mountain." A lake and a mountain within the park are also called Wawayanda—perhaps because it"s so fun to say?
Aug 16, 2021
Let s ride! It s Roller Coaster Day
Whether screaming with delight and waving their hands or closing their eyes and praying for it to be over, these riders are on the downslope of one of Europe"s biggest and fastest hypercoasters (that"s a roller coaster over 200 feet tall). Spain"s PortAventura Park is home to seven coasters, more than enough to get the adrenaline pumping. The Shambhala coaster, seen here, reaches 256 feet above the ground and has a max speed of 83 miles per hour. If that"s too tame, the park"s Red Force roller coaster climbs to 367 feet and reaches 112 miles per hour. Hang on!
Aug 15, 2021
Switzerland may be a landlocked country in the middle of Europe, but with about 6% of Europe"s fresh water flowing through its countless rivers and lakes, there are plenty of outdoor swimming spots to cool down in the Swiss summer heat. Today, we"re dipping our toes in the pristine waters of Lake Zürich in Switzerland"s largest city, which has developed its own urban lido culture. Dotted across Zürich, you"ll find lots of lidos (public open-air swimming pools or bathing beaches) that make the most of the city"s lakes. This time of year, it"s common to see bankers and other workers change from business suits into bathing suits as they enjoy a quick swim during their lunch break.
Aug 14, 2021
When Death Valley blew its top
Deep below Death Valley"s charred surface, blazing hot magma once gushed up through a geologic fault until it hit groundwater. The magma quickly turned the water to steam, and like a defective subterranean pressure cooker, the Earth"s crust blew its top in a ferocious explosion. The hydrovolcanic eruption sent up a mushroom cloud of steam and spewed burnt volcanic cinders for miles. It also left the giant crater seen in this photo and 12 smaller ones spread across the surface.
Aug 13, 2021
Fight for your lefts
It"s International Left-Handers Day, so why are we showing this horned ghost crab whose right claw is noticeably larger than its left? Well, we"re calling this crab a lefty because while its beefy right pincher is useful for grappling with other crabs, it uses its left claw for precision work like bringing food to its mouth, as a human southpaw does. (Though to be fair, it"s never been observed which claw these crabs use for writing or playing golf.)
Aug 12, 2021
Haven t you herd? It s World Elephant Day!
Maybe this shot reminds you of that scene in "The Jungle Book" where a regiment of elephants thunders through India"s dense brush. We"re actually looking down at the wetlands of Botswana, a country that boasts a pachyderm population of 130,000—more elephants than any other nation. Unfortunately, herds here in the Okavango Delta have been hit hard recently: Mysterious die-offs in 2020 claimed about 350 local African bush elephants—and the deaths have continued, albeit at a lesser rate. Though the problem is still being studied, it"s theorized that high water temps gave rise to poisonous algae blooms in the animals" watering holes.
Aug 11, 2021
Everyone s watching the Perseids
These dinosaurs are (nervously?) looking at the annual Perseid meteor shower, photographed at the Dinosaur Museum of Erenhot in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. Known as Dinosaur City, Erenhot gained attention in the 1920s when dino fossils were found there. It"s believed that more than 20 kinds of dinosaurs lived in the area during the Cretaceous Period around 70 million years ago.
Aug 10, 2021
Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch on the institution s 175th anniversary
In 1846, when Congress authorized an institution "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge," no one could have predicted what the Smithsonian Institution would eventually become. Today, on our 175th anniversary, the Smithsonian is the world"s largest museum, education, and research complex. And in the decades that I have worked here—as an educator, curator, museum director, and now as Secretary—I have watched us grow into a vital and vibrant 21st-century institution: conducting groundbreaking research, becoming a national leader in K-12 education, creating new museums that represent the American experience more fully, and equipping our audiences to tackle the world"s most pressing challenges.
Aug 9, 2021
A tribute to the ancestors
To celebrate International Day of the World"s Indigenous Peoples, we"re on New Zealand"s North Island, looking at the Ngatoroirangi rock carving by Māori artist Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell in Mine Bay. This artwork is part of a larger collection of carvings on the edge of Lake Taupo and has become a big tourist attraction despite being accessible only by boat. Four years in the making, the work is a tribute to Māori ancestors and guardians, and the integral roles they play in the Indigenous Māori culture.
Aug 8, 2021
Bridge to infinity
Infinity Day has us visiting Perth, Australia, and the Elizabeth Quay Bridge. From this aerial view, the bridge closely resembles a tilted ∞, the common symbol for infinity first popularized in a 17th-century mathematical text. We recognize this unofficial holiday every August 8, because the number 8 resembles the infinity symbol—at least when tipped on its side—and the eighth day of the eighth month is an infinitely superior day to celebrate the infinite.
Aug 7, 2021
Salt of the earth
This shimmering white expanse could easily be mistaken for Antarctica. But what we"re looking at isn"t snow and ice—it"s a surreal landscape of endless salt high in the Andes of southwest Bolivia. Located at a lofty altitude of about 12,000 feet above sea level, Salar de Uyuni is the world"s largest salt flat (or salt pan), spanning just over 4,000 square miles. It was formed when prehistoric lakes dried up over centuries, leaving behind a desert of bright white salt that can be seen from space. During the rainy season (December to April), a thin layer of water covering the salt transforms the area into a giant mirror that reflects the beautiful Bolivian skies. If you"re driving across the surface at such times, it can appear as though you are navigating through a highway of clouds.
Aug 6, 2021
Looking down upon Edinburgh
We"re kicking off festival season in Edinburgh, Scotland, with this view of the capital city from Salisbury Crags in Holyrood Park. Throughout the month of August, the city is hosting a staggering number of music, theater, opera, dance, and other types of performances as part of the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is the world"s largest international arts festival.
Aug 5, 2021
A swim in the sky
A lap in the Sky Pool may have you holding your breath, and not just because you"re underwater. With the streets of London looming 10 stories down, the view through the pool"s clear bottom is a bit freaky to all but the fearless. But swimming here is a one-of-a-kind experience, and for some lucky residents of these twin apartment blocks near the US Embassy, a convenient way to pop in on neighbors the next building over.
Aug 4, 2021
A special day for a special cat
With short, limber legs and a long tail, the clouded leopard is perfectly adapted for living in the trees. Flexible ankle joints allow it to descend trunks headfirst, one of only two cat species that can pull this off. A long tail provides stabilizing balance for leaps between trees. Sharp, retractable claws let this jungle climber dangle off branches in all sorts of gravity-defying positions.
Aug 3, 2021
A reflection of Europe s past
Today we"re in the central German state of Thuringia to visit Wachsenburg Castle. It"s the most famous of a trio of medieval hilltop castles collectively referred to as "Drei Gleichen" (Three of a Kind) because of their close resemblance. Wachsenburg was originally built by the Hersfeld Monastery sometime in the early 10th century as a fortified castle, but it underwent significant changes over the centuries.
Aug 2, 2021
This reef is nowhere near the sea…
…nor the US Capitol building it"s named for. Utah"s Capitol Reef National Park—first established as a national monument this day in 1937—is named for its massive rock domes that reminded explorers of that famous rotunda back in Washington, DC. Why Capitol "Reef," though? Because the imposing formations were a major obstacle to travelers through the region, the same way a coral reef is an obstacle to sailors.
Aug 1, 2021
Welcome to Scotland s garden
Today, we"re in the "Garden of Scotland," better known as the East Lothian region, to pay homage to the area"s agricultural roots on Lammas Day. Also known as Loaf Mass Day, it"s an observance that marks the beginning of the harvest season and is traditionally celebrated on August 1. The holiday is descended from the ancient British tradition known during the Middle Ages as the Gule of August and was gradually incorporated into the Christian liturgy celebrating Holy Communion. It gets its name from loaves of bread baked from the first harvested grain of the season each year.
Jul 31, 2021
Fashion models of the avian world
Striking plumage, dramatic tail feathers, long down-curved bills, that indefinable certain something… You can see why bee-eaters are considered among the most beautiful of birds—and highly prized by photographers. There are about 25 species of bee-eaters that live throughout tropical and subtropical parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. They"re medium-sized and both males and females sport similar jewel-toned plumage. This group perching in Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania is mostly made up of the northern carmine variety—with blue-green heads and mostly red bodies—plus a few European bee-eaters seemingly for accent color.