Bing Wallpaper Gallery
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.
Jul 30, 2021
Working for that cliffside view
Maine"s Acadia National Park serves up spectacular views at most every turn. But the park"s Otter Cliffs on Mount Desert Island offer the adventurous among us a chance to take in the picturesque Atlantic shoreline from the edge of a sheer granite wall. Rising some 60 feet above the crashing waves below, the cliffs are shown here at low tide—when the tide is up, that ledge at the bottom is completely submerged.
Jul 29, 2021
Hiding in plain sight
Today we"re in Assam, India, to celebrate International Tiger Day, the annual celebration of the magnificent striped cats that have captured our imagination through the ages. This annual observance began in 2010 at a summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia, conceived as a way to draw attention to the plight of tigers and spur conservation efforts.
Jul 28, 2021
A goldie gala
It"s ladies" night at the Great Barrier Reef: Their bright orange-pink coloration indicates these sea goldies are females. But that could change quickly: Sea goldies are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning that when there aren"t enough fellas around, the largest females change sex to become male, turning purplish and growing even larger. All goldies are born female, but those that switch to male enjoy instantly better odds at mating time: For every male goldie there are up to 10 females.
Jul 27, 2021
Maybe we should be looking up
When it first flicked on the projector lights in 1930, the Adler Planetarium in Chicago was the only one in the Western Hemisphere, and it featured an innovative new lens imported from Germany. But the American public"s fascination with stars and distant worlds, it turned out, was skyrocketing. By 1934, the Adler had welcomed over a million visitors.
Jul 26, 2021
The dancing trees of Sumba Island
On the northern coast of Indonesia"s Sumba Island, a stand of mangrove trees appears to dip and sway to summon another dreamy sunrise. Walakiri Beach is gently sloped, so it"s easy for a visitor to walk out into the knee-deep water to examine the extraordinary transitional zone of a mangrove ecosystem. Mangroves thrive here at the boundary between land and sea, growing in coastal salt water and low-oxygen conditions where other trees would quickly die. Their complex root systems filter out the salt and form a strong natural defense against storm surges, rising sea levels, and coastal erosion. Mangroves also create aquatic nursery habitats that support a highly diverse range of juvenile fish and crustaceans.
Jul 25, 2021
This landmark of the Land Down Under is usually pictured in sweltering desert sunlight. Now a 21st-century addition near the ancient rock of Uluru has people flocking here even at night.
Jul 24, 2021
Can you see the family resemblance?
In honor of Cousins Day, we"re hanging out on a limb with these four Javan tree frogs in Indonesia. Tree frogs are smaller than your average terrestrial frogs because they spend the majority of their lives perched in trees, and their weight must be fully supported by twigs and leaves. At the rounded ends of their froggy fingers and toes are disc-shaped adhesive pads that help them to maneuver about on trees. While most tree frogs (there are 800 species all over the world!) are green, brown, or gray, these Javans are bright and colorful. This is so they can blend into their jungle environs and avoid notice by predators such as snakes, spiders, bats, and owls.
Jul 23, 2021
Let the games (finally) begin!
Shining like an incandescent Olympic torch, the Tokyo Tower is our cue to finally say, "Let the games begin!" Along with so much else, the 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed last year (as you probably heard). Despite the long delay, the Summer Olympic Games begin in Tokyo today, almost exactly one year after the games were originally due to start. But these Olympics will look a little different from past games. A recent spike in coronavirus cases has led to a state of emergency in Tokyo, so Olympic organizers have barred spectators from most events. Nevertheless, officials are determined that the Tokyo Olympics will be a demonstration of fortitude in the face of adversity.
Jul 22, 2021
Singing praises of the oceans
In Japan, mid-July brings an excuse to head to the beach. That"s because this time of year marks Marine Day (aka Ocean Day), an observance recognizing the close bond the island nation shares with the seas and ocean that surround it. Because Marine Day roughly coincides with the end of the rainy season, it has, over the years, become a sort of unofficial kickoff to the hot summer season. One place sure to attract visitors is the picturesque Minokake-Iwa rock formation seen here, lying off the island of Honshu and its mountainous 31-mile-long Izu Peninsula.
Jul 21, 2021
An octagonal architectural treasure
Built in the 1240s by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in southeast Italy, Castel del Monte (Castle of the Mount) features an unusual octagonal design. Eight stone walls stretch between eight octagonal towers and enclose an octagonal courtyard. Each of the two floors also has eight trapezoidal rooms. Acclaimed and protected as a World Heritage Site in 1996, the castle symbolically reflects a harmonious integration of classical Roman, Arabic, and medieval architecture and design—and to some, its octagonal symmetry suggests a connection between heaven and earth.
Jul 20, 2021
Fly me to the moon
It was 52 years ago today that astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to land on the moon. Their photographs of the moon, and others taken since then, have become commonplace. But for Moon Day—the annual celebration of that first lunar landing—let"s take a close look at this extraordinary image of Earth"s only natural satellite. Prathamesh Jaju, age 16, of Pune, India, worked for over 40 hours stitching together this detailed photograph from more than 50,000 images he took of the moon"s surface. Jaju, who describes himself as an "amateur astrophotographer," used an automated telescope to track the moon"s movements over a four-hour period in May 2021. The result is this highly detailed portrait showing the moon"s craters, textures, shadows, and colors. While this image may be as close as we ever get to the moon, at least we know we"ll never gaze at it the same way again.
Jul 19, 2021
Wander the ancient medina
This colorful alleyway is in the medina—the ancient part—of the Moroccan city of Tétouan. From above, the medina appears to be a maze of traditional white plaster buildings surrounded by rampart walls and seven magnificent gates. But inside the maze, some alleyways like this one display a burst of color, an embellishment created by mixing pigments into the buildings" plaster. The passageways here are tall and skinny, large enough for a donkey and its handler to pass by, but too small for vehicles, so they invite peaceful strolls through the colorful shade.
Jul 18, 2021
Grand finish of Le Tour
After a three-week jaunt around France, cycling"s most prestigious race concludes today with a triumphant procession into Paris before a sprint finish on the iconic Champs-Élysées. The 21st and final stage of this year"s Tour de France—the 108th edition of the famous event—begins in Chatou, a town in the western suburbs of Paris along the River Seine. Tour tradition dictates the overall race leader isn"t challenged on the last day, so it starts out as a victory parade for the champion-elect, who will be wearing a yellow jersey, posing for pictures, and sipping a glass of champagne along the route. But when the riders reach the heart of Paris, the pace picks up as they dash along the Champs-Élysées, a tree-lined promenade often described as the "most beautiful avenue in the world."
Jul 17, 2021
Not quite. This winsome winged creature is a moth, a Loepa oberthuri to be exact, a type of silkmoth. It"s the star of our homepage because today marks the start of National Moth Week, which shines the porch light on this unlikely hero. Unlike their showier cousins, butterflies, moths get a bad rap from time to time, and that"s fair, as caterpillars of some moth species are agricultural pests. But before you break out the mothballs, consider this: Scientists estimate that there are some 160,000 species of moths worldwide, many just as stunning as our silkmoth today, and tracking their health often helps us gauge the health of entire ecosystems. So we encourage you to investigate moths this week right in your own backyard. All you have to do: Turn on the porch light—and the moths will come calling.
Jul 16, 2021
Whatever floats your boat
These turquoise waters are lapping the sands of Mont Choisy Beach in Mauritius, an island nation off the southeastern coast of Africa. It"s a popular spot for locals and tourists to swim, enjoy the sun, or head out in one of these boats to catch some fish. The island has a unique cultural history. Most scholars believe it was known to Arab seafarers by the 10th century, but it remained uninhabited until Portuguese sailors established a base on the island in the early 1500s. Mauritius was later colonized in succession by the Netherlands, France, and Great Britain before gaining independence in 1968. Over the years, Mauritius has evolved from a low-income economy based mostly on sugarcane (still one of its biggest exports), to a more diverse one that includes tourism, clothing production, and technology.
Jul 15, 2021
A river runs through rice fields
We"re peering down the winding Ngo Dong River at a group of rowboats meandering through rice paddy fields. This is Ninh Bình province in Vietnam, about 60 miles south of Hanoi. On these two-hour tours by traditional Vietnamese rowboat, visitors wend their way between limestone karst peaks, through grottoes, and, if they"re lucky, by workers harvesting rice in the fields, their wide-brimmed hats shielding them from the sun. Perhaps the most spectacular time to take this river cruise is around harvest time in late May and early June when the paddy fields are awash in a golden glow with a backdrop of bright green hillsides. But don"t be surprised if the person rowing your boat moves the oars from hands to feet. It"s tradition here for rowers to give their arms a break and let their legs take over.
Jul 14, 2021
A different view of sharks
They"ve long been treated as threats, portrayed as villains, and brutally hunted for their edible fins, so we think it"s only fair that sharks get their own day. Shark Awareness Day is meant to highlight the importance of the most fearsome fish in nature, from little dwarf lantern sharks to great whites to these blacktip reef sharks cruising the Tahitian coast.
Jul 13, 2021
Through an artist s eyes
If this beautiful view of Grand Teton National Park seems as pretty as a painting, there may be a reason for it. The majestic peaks towering over the landscape include Mount Moran, named for Thomas Moran, an American artist of New York"s Hudson River School who earned fame by painting scenes of the Western frontier. In 1871, Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson were invited on an expedition to the Yellowstone region to accompany a team from the US Geological Society while they conducted the first comprehensive survey of the area. Moran"s paintings and Jackson"s photographs from the trip immediately captured the public"s attention and inspired Congress to establish Yellowstone as the first national park in 1872.
Jul 12, 2021
A lofty lighthouse and a little ocean spray
The Farolim de Felgueiras (Lighthouse of Felgueiras) you see here has withstood relentless waves for around 135 years. It offered its solitary warnings to ships approaching Porto, Portugal"s second-largest city, beginning in 1886 until it was finally deactivated in 2009. Even though it"s no longer operational, it"s still a well-known local landmark. It offers sightseers a beautiful view, and maybe a little ocean spray, from its perch overlooking the mouth of the Douro River where it flows into the Atlantic.
Jul 11, 2021
Why, aloe there
Aloe isn"t just that itch-relief ooze you buy at the supermarket. Aloes are some of the most splendid succulent plants in nature, coming in many shapes and colors. While the rubbery, gel-filled leaves of most aloe plants are long and spear-shaped, those of the pictured Aloe polyphylla species are stout and tightly set—one of many examples in nature of a near-perfect spiral. Commonly called spiral aloe, it"s a coveted garden plant with specific growing conditions that make it hard to keep alive. Even in nature it"s rare and native only to the chilly mountains of Lesotho, a tiny kingdom entirely surrounded by South Africa.
Jul 10, 2021
Today we"re in the Extremadura region of western Spain, in the beautiful Monfragüe National Park near the border with Portugal. This 18-mile long, 4-mile wide stretch of nature in the province of Cáceres is framed by the Tagus and Tietar Rivers (it"s the Tagus that"s in our image today). The mountainous Peña Falcon rock face defines its western side. Much of the park is covered by a thick Mediterranean forest full of wildlife, making this place a destination for outdoor lovers of all sorts. It"s especially notable for the many birds: Over 280 species are found here, including storks, kingfishers, cormorants, and eagles, as well as one of the world"s largest reserves of black vultures and their tawny vulture cousins. Other wildlife routinely spotted in Monfragüe include otters, deer, wild boar, and Iberian lynx.