Behold: The best scientific photographs of 2017, according to the Royal Society

Images of astronomy, climatology, and animal behavior were awarded by the Royal Society of London.

The Royal Society, one of the oldest scientific societies in the world, has chosen the best scientific photographs of 2017.

In this edition, the jury has chosen between more than 1,100 images, and all of them are more than stunning.

But as in everything there’s gotta’ be a winner, here are the 15 images that were chosen as the best.

A frozen, alien landscape by Peter Convey. The winner of the best photographs and the winner of Earth Sciences and climatology.

The scale of Antarctica is impressive but difficult to understand. This photo, taken in early 1995 during a flight over the English coast (southern Antarctic Peninsula) at about 74 degrees to the south, illustrates the scale of unusual bidirectional cracks when an ice sheet is stretched in two directions over an underlying elevation, with a Twin Otter plane for scale. The image was only recently been scanned by the BAS (British Antarctic Research).

The winner of the Astronomy category. “Moon Projector, South Pole, Antarctica,” by Daniel Michalik.

Ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere create a rare optical phenomenon: a pillar of light under the Moon. Three of the telescopes located at the South Pole are visible to the right of the image. A line of flags helps find the way to telescopes during the five months of continuous darkness.

Jupiter is visible as a bright spot to the left of the Moon.

The image was taken as a single long exposure at -60 ° C with minor contrast and exposure adjustments

Taking a well-deserved break by Antonia Doncila.

This photograph was taken while passing the Fram Strait to retrieve and redeploy the mooring equipment near the east coast of Greenland. Given that the Arctic Ocean is warming at double the rate compared to the rest of the world, it was painful but not surprising to see that sea ice was scarce. On the trip, polar bears were seen swimming in an ocean of open waters without a shadow of sea ice on which to rest their heavy bodies.

Those polar bears are doomed to die from overheating while swimming hopelessly in no direction. The protagonist of this photograph has been fortunate nevertheless. He found a portion of fast ice that quickly became his home. His gaze on the water represents the product of human errors. It is also a symbol of hope because what melted can freeze again.

The winner of the category Ecology and environmental science. “Waiting in the shallows,” by Nico de Bruyn.

The killer whales suddenly enter a small bay on the Subantarctic island of Marion, which surprises a small group of king penguins busy in the water. The penguins on the beach in the foreground focus on this sudden danger, while another bird inspects the colony for food, totally unconcerned with the appearance of killer whales.


The winner of the Microimaging category.

“Family of drops of olive oil hanging together,” by Hervé Elettro

The finalist in the Astronomy category. Image by Wei-Feng Xue.

The American eclipse of 2017 seen from the route that crosses northern Georgia. This is the diamond ring that illuminates some very fine cloud structures, almost like space clouds (i.e., a nebula).

Finalist in Behavior by David Costantini. Arctic terns (Sterna paradisaea) mate for life.

They reproduce on the ground, and both males and females share the duties of incubation. “During a research trip to Svalbard, I found this pair of birds that found an intelligent solution to solve the difficult task of finding a good place to breed in landscapes modified by humans: they made their own house in an abandoned shovel. This photo also shows how vocal communication between partners is very important regarding coordinating the efforts of parents to achieve successful reproduction.”

Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants, which extract their nutrients from trapped and digested insects.

Finalist: Microimages. “Water bear embryo,” by Vladimir Gross.

The tardigrades (also known as water bears) are small invertebrate animals capable of surviving extreme environmental conditions. This image shows a 50-hour embryo of the species Hypsibius dujardini, taken with a scanning electron microscope with a 1800x magnification. The embryo in the picture is approximately 1/15 of a millimeter in length.

Finalist in Earth Sciences and climatology by Giuseppe Suaria.

The Russian research vessel Akademik Tryoshnikov supports the bow against the nose of the Mertz Glacier in East Antarctica. The photo was taken just before deploying ROPOS; a Remote Operated Submarine Vehicle (ROV) under the surface of the glacier in order to investigate the melting of the ice sheet after a piece of ice protruding 100 kilometers (62 miles) into the ocean Austral separated from the main body in 2010.

The skies over ESO’s Paranal Observatory resemble oil over water in this ESO week image, as greens, yellows, and blues combine to create a landscape of iridescent sky.

Honorable mention: Behavior. “Throw the scorpion: an Indian roller playing with death,” by Susmita Datta.

Honorable mention: Ecology and environmental science. Image The rainy season, the green tree frog and the maintenance of life,” by Carlos Jared.

Honorable mention: Microimaging. “Acari trapped in the web,” by Bernardo Segura.

Honorable mention: Earth Sciences and climatology. “Pele’s fire.” About the lava flow at the active Kilauea volcano in the Hawaiian National Park

Find out more: Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition