Bing Wallpaper Gallery
Apr 1, 2019
A photographer happened to catch these brown bear cubs in the act of stealing a boat. Patiently, he watched from afar, snapping photo after photo. Realizing what the cubs were doing, he knew he should document this event. Intent on getting the boat into the water, the cubs worked like they’d done this before. Lighting out onto the lake, the bears seemed to enjoy the ride.
Mar 31, 2019
Celebrating a Paris landmark
Today we celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower, which doesn’t look a day over 129, if you ask us. The wrought-iron latticework tower is named for French civil engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose firm designed and built the structure. Originally created for the 1889 World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower was the world"s tallest structure for more than 40 years, until New York’s Chrysler Building edged it out in 1930.
Apr 2, 2019
Books for children of all ages
The books shown on our homepage are a selection of works by the 19th-century Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. His birthday today is the inspiration for International Children’s Book Day. Since 1967, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has used the occasion of Andersen’s birthday to encourage readers young and old to make time for reading. Hans Christian Andersen made time for writing: By some estimates, he crafted more than 3,000 fairy tales—some based on stories he was told as a child. He also wrote poetry, novels, and even travel books. What childhood favorite inspired your love of literature?
Apr 3, 2019
Dark skies over New Mexico
We’re celebrating International Dark-Sky Week with an image from a corner of New Mexico that’s one of the best places to stargaze in the continental United States. Dark-Sky Week is observed during the first new moon of April, when stars shine more brightly because the moon isn’t visible. The event was created to bring attention to the harmful effects of artificial light on the natural world, and to remind us of the beauty of an unadulterated night sky. Light pollution not only impacts our ability to see the stars and to sleep soundly, but also creates challenges for many nocturnal species, migrating birds, and even baby sea turtles. So, turn out those lights, look up, and be amazed at the sky that your great-great-grandparents saw.
Mar 30, 2019
Here’s why landmarks are going dark
Buildings around the world will go dark for 60 minutes this evening in a voluntary event known as Earth Hour. This grassroots effort was started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, by the Australian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (aka World Wildlife Fund), which encouraged Sydneysiders to show their support for climate action. Since then, it’s grown into a global movement to raise awareness of our energy consumption and the effects of climate change on our planet.
Mar 26, 2019
The forecast calls for blooms
Cherry blossom season in Japan is a beloved tradition that involves family gatherings, festivals, and spending time outdoors. Admiring the ‘sakura’—or cherry blossoms—has been a national pastime for centuries. The custom of enjoying the cherry blossoms is known as ‘hanami,’ and it’s commonly done by picnicking under the flowering branches. For late-night picnics, participants hang paper lanterns in the trees to illuminate the blooms. This image comes from the Meguro River, a popular place for viewing the sakura in Tokyo. Are there cherry trees blooming where you live?
Apr 4, 2019
Taking the forest to the cloud
For Earth Month, we’re highlighting the power of trees, which help to clean our air and watersheds while providing habitat for myriad species, including our own. In urban areas, trees provide unique benefits by cooling area temperatures, producing oxygen, increasing property values, and generally improving the scenery.
Mar 28, 2019
Let us introduce you…
Say hello to the rufous-tailed hummingbird. This female is sitting in her tiny nest. Males look similar—lots of green, just like the females, but they have a bit more glitter on the throat and breast. Both sexes have a reddish-brown (rufous) forked tail—hence the name. Rufous-tailed hummingbirds are found in forests, gardens, and coffee plantations from southern Mexico down into South America, and they play an important role in pollination. Not to be confused with the smaller rufous hummingbird, which migrates through North America, the rufous-tailed is medium-sized and, like most hummingbirds, is very territorial when it comes to protecting its favorite feeding spots.
Mar 27, 2019
Sweet! It’s maple syrup season
That sweetness in the air is not just the arrival of springtime—maple syrup season has arrived in Quebec. Taps drilled into the maple trees collect oozing sap in buckets like these. The sap is then heated to evaporate excess water, leaving the concentrated sugary syrup—yum. And Canada takes its maple syrup very seriously. Producing about 70 percent of the world’s maple syrup, Quebec even has its own ‘maple syrup cartel,’ which works to keep prices stable and maintains the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve. Now, that’s sticky business.
Jan 20, 2018
Yellow-eyed penguins, Moeraki, New Zealand
The hills are alive with the sound of penguins here on Katiki Point, part of the Moeraki Peninsula on New Zealand’s South Island. This is a significant habitat for endangered yellow-eyed penguins, which are some of the rarest penguins in the world. They are a solitary, vocal bird known as hoiho, or ‘noise-shouter,’ in the Māori language. This winter the birds had a lot to talk about, as scientists discovered evidence of a prehistoric penguin in New Zealand that was human-sized. These prehistoric relatives were given the name Kumimanu biceae--kumimanu means ‘monster bird’ in the Māori tongue.
Apr 5, 2019
A day of death and rebirth
Today, places like this nature path in Longyan, China, will be full of families. A springtime walk with loved ones is often part of the Qingming Festival happening today. Qingming translates as ‘Pure Brightness,’ though it’s also called Tomb-Sweeping Day. It’s a time to honor your deceased ancestors, often by cleaning and decorating their graves, and gathering the family together to share happy memories of those relatives. The solemnity is balanced by the arrival of spring, so some Qingming observances include spending time outdoors with family.
Jan 19, 2018
Old Town in Prague, Czech Republic
This ethereal view is of Old Town in Prague, also known as ‘the city of 100 spires.’ Prague is one of the most visited places in Europe, and with good reason. Here you’ll find a rich variety of architecture—hence the city’s nickname—and treasures such as the Prague astronomical clock, a 600-year-old wonder that displays the time, date, and positions of celestial bodies.
Apr 20, 2019
Glacial spires in the fog
The Cove of Spires in Kenai Fjords National Park is just one of the dramatic glacial landscapes that you can experience in the park. Located near Seward, Alaska, the park is home to 38 glaciers which cover over half of the area in ice—though climate change has reduced that drastically over the last decades. We"re here to celebrate the beginning of National Park Week, a nine-day celebration of the 61 national parks in the US. Parks around the country will be holding special programs and events throughout the week, and today, April 20, is free admission day. So, put on your hiking shoes and start exploring our national treasures.
Mar 25, 2019
Greece celebrates its independence
For Greek Independence Day, we’ve got a sprawling view of Athens, one of the oldest cities in the world and considered the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, and the Olympic Games, among other foundational achievements. While Athens has been inhabited for thousands of years, it became the capital of Greece after the country gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in the Greek War of Independence, which started in 1821 and lasted until 1829. Back then, the city was home to about 4,000 people. Today, more than 600,000 people live in Athens, with nearly 4 million in the metro area. Independence Day celebrations in the city start on March 24 with the annual students" parade and continue the following day with a grand parade that features marching bands and a procession of military vehicles.
Mar 29, 2019
A place called ‘Peace’ in India
Today we"re visiting Auroville, India, aka "The City of Dawn." In 1968, French-born guru and yogi Mirra Alfassa founded this spiritual community in southern India as a place where people of all races, religions, and nationalities could live together peacefully. Although conceived as a utopia for 50,000, only about 2,800 people from over 50 countries live here today. The golden metallic orb, the Matrimandir, is considered the soul of the city, standing in the center of the 2,000-acre township in an area called "Peace." Silence is maintained inside the sphere. A spiraling ramp leads up to a white-marble, air-conditioned inner chamber designed for one to find one"s consciousness. Reservations required—at least for tourists.
Mar 24, 2019
30 years after Exxon Valdez
Thirty years ago today, the largest oil tanker spill in US history occurred here in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Nearly 11 million gallons of oil flowed into the once-pristine waters when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker struck Bligh Reef. The area is so remote that cleanup efforts were delayed, allowing 1,300 miles of shoreline to be contaminated. The US Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that among other casualties, more than 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, and 22 orcas were lost. The spill, while devastating, has provided a living laboratory as scientists study how the ecosystem recovers—and doesn’t. Some species and their habitat are still impacted by the spill. There is at least one highlight: Government agencies say the sea otter population here has fully recovered; however, the local subspecies as a whole remains endangered.
Jan 18, 2018
Entoloma hochstetteri mushroom at Lake Mahinapua, New Zealand
Leave it to weird, wild, wonderful New Zealand to be home to a blue mushroom. Fungus enthusiasts can also find Entoloma hochstetteri in parts of India and Brazil, but it’s bountiful enough on both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, that it is part of the artwork on the latest iteration of the $50 note. It appears alongside the kōkako, a bird whose blue wattles inspired the Māori name for this mushroom: werewere-kōkako.
Jan 9, 2018
Great Fountain Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Two thirds of the world’s geysers are located here at Yellowstone National Park, each with its own unique characteristics. Shown here is the Great Fountain Geyser, which erupts every 9 to 15 hours with sprays that reach 75 feet to over 220 feet in the air. More than just a spectacle, these geysers are evidence of the volcanic activity simmering beneath the surface. Yellowstone’s last major volcanic eruption occurred about 630,000 years ago, and the potential for future activity is the subject of much curiosity—and speculation.
Apr 19, 2019
Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park shines
If you’re looking for a piece of paradise that’s off the beaten path, consider Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, a destination in the Cerrado, a vast tropical savannah in central Brazil. Located on a towering plateau that’s estimated to be 1.8 billion years old, it’s home to many rare and beautiful species, including these delicate flowers, paepalanthus. Waterfalls are plentiful here. Ranging from 250 to nearly 400 feet tall, they cascade down among some of the oldest rock formations on the planet. Quartz crystals dot the landscape, and their reflections reportedly make the region shine when viewed from space.
Apr 21, 2019
The Easter Bunny’s story
It sure looks to us like this bunny has found a great place to hide brightly colored eggs. German Lutherans created the character of the ‘Easter hare’ that is the basis for the modern-day Easter Bunny. Their version of the bunny judged whether children had been good or bad during the Eastertide season—with well-behaved kids getting a treat. But rabbits and hares have long been associated with springtime, rebirth, and fertility, so perhaps the leap from gentle backyard visitor to keeper of spring’s ‘naughty or nice’ list was inevitable for these fuzzy critters.
Jun 23, 2018
Commemorating peace in Antarctica
We feel chilly just looking at this image of the Europa sailing the Penola Strait, near the Antarctic Peninsula. This three-masted barque may resemble polar explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated ship Endurance, which was lost to the ice in an expedition to the South Pole in 1915. But the Europa is a modern, refitted lightship that now sails the world with paying passengers and makes annual trips to Antarctica.
Mar 23, 2019
What happened to these clouds?
Today is World Meteorology Day, so we’re high up in the atmosphere, above the clouds, for a satellite view of fallstreak holes. These gaps in the clouds are sometimes called hole-punch clouds. The holes form when supercooled water droplets suddenly freeze—often when a plane flies through the cloud—and then fall, leaving an opening in the formation. Scientists are still gaining new insights on how fallstreak holes form and behave.
Mar 11, 2019
You re feeling sleepy
If springing forward for daylight saving time has you feeling drowsy, grumpy, or unproductive, then National Napping Day was literally made for you. Created in 1999 by Boston University professor William Anthony, this annual event is observed on the day most Americans are "nap-ready." So, take a cue from this African leopard and find a comfy place to catnap.
Apr 9, 2019
The glowing waters of the Matsu Islands
From April through September, a type of algae commonly called ‘sea sparkle’ blooms along the coast of all 36 islands in the Matsu archipelago off the coast of Taiwan. An enzyme reaction in the algae’s single-cellular bodies creates the light-emitting chemical reaction. Locals call the natural light show ‘blue tears.’ Stranger still is that when the water is disturbed, the algae light up even brighter. If you want to see the blue tears of the Matsu Islands, there’s still time to book a trip—the bioluminescent effect is more common and more intense during the hot summer months.
Mar 22, 2019
Fresh water on the Silk Road
No, these aren’t the ruins of an ancient amusement park in Western China. These two water wheels on the Tashkurgan River are part of the irrigation system that helps keep the 13,000 or so residents of Tashkurgan supplied with fresh water even though the region receives less than 3 inches of precipitation each year. That reliable access to fresh water is one of the reasons this area has been inhabited for thousands of years and made it an important stop on the ancient Silk Road trade route. Highlighting the importance of fresh water is the goal of World Water Day, which falls on March 22 every year. This year’s theme is "Leaving no one behind." With over 2.1 billion people living without safe water at home, it’s one of the most ambitious of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.