那些生动的岩石 Living rock
Göreme, in Cappadocia, Turkey
Both natural wonders and historic landmarks, the 'fairy chimneys' of Göreme may suggest the fantastical dwellings of an alien species or an illustration from a Dr. Seuss book. These and similar rock formations are known by many names—hoodoos, tent rocks, earth pyramids, as well as fairy chimneys—and are typically found in dry, hot areas. Here in Cappadocia, in south-central Turkey, they were formed when a thick layer of volcanic ash solidified over millions of years into soft, porous rock called tuff that was overlaid by hard basalt. Cracks in the basalt allowed wind and rain to gradually wash away the softer bottom layer, leaving the hard basalt to cap tall columns of the tuff. The result is these unusual, often beautiful—and perhaps puzzling—formations that spread across the Anatolian plain.
This part of modern day Turkey has been inhabited since at least the Hittite era, between 1800 and 1200 BCE, and possibly for much longer. Innumerable ancient empires fought over the region, with Hittites, Assyrians, Neo-Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans each laying claim to Anatolia at times. To escape this dangerous world, the locals learned to burrow into the hillsides for protection. Today, a visitor can see the vast, complex, interconnected caves in which societies thrived and sheltered for millennia. Göreme National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985 and is now a popular tourist destination.
你能把灯关掉吗? Could you turn off the lights?
Dark Sky Week
During International Dark Sky Week, we're counting ourselves lucky to have this spectacular nighttime view, considering the astonishing fact that 83% of the global population lives under a light-polluted sky. Unneeded artificial light is classified as a pollutant and has been proven to have harmful side effects. Not only does it waste money and energy, it also disrupts plants and animals, is believed to impact the climate, and blocks our view of the universe.
Encouraging people to get away from artificial light is one of the goals of International Dark Sky Week, and today's photo shows just how magnificent that can be. Here, we're treated to a beautiful view of the Milky Way from Yosemite National Park in California. Yosemite is part of a network of national parks monitoring dark night skies to gather a complete data set of light pollution. They've learned that 'two-thirds of Americans cannot see the Milky Way from their backyard, and if current light pollution trends continue, there will be almost no dark skies left in the contiguous United States by 2025.'
Luckily, dark sky is a recoverable resource. There are ways to reduce our light use and improve the view of the night sky for everyone. Think about it over the course of the next week, preferably while gazing at a night sky undisturbed by light pollution—or at least a beautiful photo of one.
巴尔干湖上的木板路 Boardwalk over Balkan lakes
Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
In a country more famous for its coastline, about a million visitors each year venture inland to amble along these boardwalks and marvel at spectacular lakes and mountains. Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest and largest of Croatia's national parks. The big attraction is the series of 16 descending, turquoise-colored lakes, connected by subterranean karst rivers, and above ground by streams and waterfalls. The lakes are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by moss, algae, and bacteria. The water changes color from green to azure to gray depending on the angle of the light and the density of minerals and organisms in the water. About 11 miles of wooden boardwalk make it easy for people to wander among the lakes, falls, and caves that are open to visitors year-round.
The 115-square-mile park was established in 1949 in what is now central Croatia, near the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1979, Plitvice's unique beauty put it on the list UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The lakes seem to magically disappear into the moss-covered earth, and then reappear downstream, proof enough that these woods are indeed enchanted.
蓝色新西兰 Blue Zealand
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
The striking electric-blue waters of Lake Tekapo are caused by extremely finely ground rock particles suspended in the melted waters of glaciers in the nearby Southern Alps. Snowmelt from the range feeds two similarly stunning lakes in the Mackenzie Basin of New Zealand's South Island, Lake Pukaki and Lake Ohau, which share their neighbor's remarkable turquoise color and mountainous backdrops. New Zealand's highest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook, reigns in Mount Cook National Park, seen in the background of this image.
The name Tekapo is a misspelling of the Māori word Takapō, which means 'to leave in haste at night.' But if you are one of the region's many visitors, you may find the nighttime even more mesmerizing than the day. Lake Tekapo is a certified Dark Sky Reserve, one of the world's largest. With night skies almost completely free of light pollution, stargazing doesn't get much more vibrant, and tours cater to manuhiri (visitors) interested in astro-tourism. If that's not reason enough to stay the night, the area's abundant skiing and fishing opportunities might be. There's certainly no need to leave in a rush.
古老的冰川与大海相遇的地方 Where ancient ice meets the sea
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
Think of this special spot as the place where two different Alaskas meet—its vast icy north and its verdant maritime south. Glacier Bay is named for this area's dominant feature, the rivers of ice that carve the landscape and periodically calve icebergs into the sea. On February 26, 1925, President Calvin Coolidge declared much of the land around the bay a national monument. But the protected area was greatly expanded in 1980, when a 3.3-million-acre expanse of glaciers, fjords, rainforest, coastline, and mountain peaks was named a national park and preserve.
Pictured here is Lamplugh Glacier, one of the relatively few tidewater glaciers in the park; the vast majority are found inland. Lamplugh is known for its intense blue color—ice and water absorb the red wavelength of white light and transmit blue light, which is what we end up seeing. The thicker and more pure the ice, the more blue it appears.
Kluane National Park
What looks here like an ice road for 50-foot-tall truckers is really Kaskawulsh Glacier in Canada's Kluane National Park. This corner of the Yukon is home to the largest ice field on Earth outside of the poles, with the slow, steady flow of more than 2,000 glaciers continually carving these vast canyons amid the peaks.
Speaking of peaks, glance up and you'll see the Yukon is also paradise for mountain lovers. And Kluane is its pinnacle, literally: Located within the park is Mount Logan, the highest mountain in Canada (and second-highest on the continent after Alaska's Denali).
Glowworm caves in Australia
Down under the land in the Land Down Under, cave explorers may find these subterranean spaces illuminated by an unlikely light source. Fungus gnat larvae—more affectionately known as glowworms—speckle the walls and ceilings of caverns here in Australia during the warm season from December to March. To humans they're hypnotizingly harmless and add a little otherworldly charm to the caves in such places as Blue Mountains National Park, as seen in our photo. But if you're a fly or mosquito, beware! Glowworms dangle tiny, sticky silk strands that ensnare winged insects flying toward what looks like a starry night sky, but is in fact the cave ceiling, covered in glowworms, patiently waiting to reel in a deceived fly.