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Volcanic views, stalking storks and the ephemeral eclipse

August’s sharpest science shots, selected by Nature’s photo team.

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Souvenirs of travel

  1. There was plenty to interest the scientifically inclined in the latest National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest. The Grand Prize winner was this shot of the Colima Volcano in Mexico erupting in December 2015.

    Sergio Tapiro Velasco/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

  2. This picture of Caribbean reef sharks (Carcharhinus perezii) was taken with a remote camera in the Gardens of the Queen, a marine protected area near Cuba. This image and the next two earned honourable mentions in the Nature category.

    Shane Gross/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

  3. This picture from the Tamba area of Japan shows fireflies signalling for mates above the stairs leading to a shrine.

    Yutaka Takafuji/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

  4. This shot of Mount Bromo erupting in 2016 in Indonesia was taken from the patio of a local hotel.

    Reynold Riksa Dewantara/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

Eclipse excitement

Jasman Mander

North Americans turned into literal lunatics on 21 August, as an eclipse sent thousands of obsessed sky-watchers scrambling to see the Moon block out the Sun. Here, a composite image shows the progression of the eclipse as seen from the Lowell Observatory in Madras, Oregon.

Go northwest!

Dan Goldman/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The Northwest Passage through the Arctic Ocean has become a much-examined signifier of climate change. As ice thins, more ships than ever before are attempting to push through this previously impassable sea route. On 29 July, the icebreaker MSV Nordica — pictured here — completed the route earlier in the year than ever before. Just a few weeks later, a reinforced Russian tanker made the journey successfully without an icebreaker escort.

Harvey's toll

Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

Storm Harvey is still bringing death and destruction to the United States, as record rainfall in Texas triggered flooding and evacuations. These people in Houston, Texas, were among many forced to take to the waters to escape.

Stork, stalking

Nicky Classen/Solent News/REX/Shutterstock

This yellow-billed stork (Mycteria ibis) began hunting for fish right alongside a photographer’s hide in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. Nicky Classen was inside the hide earlier this month to capture the shot.

Catching dinner

John Thys/AFP/Getty

In the Netherlands, lions that were once trained to do tricks in circuses have been taught other skills. This lioness is catching a piece of meat during hunting training.

Do svidaniya!

Joel Kowsky/NASA

On 28 July, a Soyuz rocket shuttled three crew members of Expedition 52 to the International Space Station. The mission plans to test out flexible solar panels that roll out like blankets; explore the physics of neutron stars; and test in rats an experimental drug to deal with bone-mass loss caused by weightlessness.

Cassini’s legacy


On 15 September, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will begin a plunge into Saturn’s clouds that will lead to its destruction and the end of its 13 years of data collection. Nature looks back at some of the pictures the probe has captured, and what they have meant for science.

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