When we least expect it, life suprises us with a little bit of perfection. There are many stunning moments in this month's collection of Photo of the Day images that appear to be stolen from a movie. Whether it's the spectacular aurora australis, a creeping snake in India, or a snowed in tree in Japan, life imitates art.
Janna Dotschkal is the editor of Photo of the Day, a curated look at photography from around National Geographic, including the magazine and our photo community, Your Shot. Liane DiStefano writes the captions and titles.
The aurora australis paints the clouds in shades of pink over the south coast of Wellington, New Zealand. Like the aurora borealis, it appears when solar winds filled with charged particles buffet Earth’s magnetic field. The aurora australis, however, is the South Pole’s answer to the northern phenomenon. PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK GEE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
The Coast Is Clear
A helicopter flight “from Aransas Pass south toward Port Isabel” afforded Your Shot member Matthew Goodwin a clear and higher-than-bird’s-eye view of the Texas coast along the Gulf of Mexico. Goodwin’s route traces the Central Flyway, a major migration track for birds flying between North and South America.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MATTHEW GOODWIN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
An Awesome Encounter
“The little fox was extremely curious and friendly, but careful at the same time,” Mihai Gagiu writes of this animal photographed in a Romanian forest. The description fits: Red foxes are known to be resourceful, intelligent animals that often adjust well in environments with a human presence. PHOTOGRAPH BY MIHAI GAGIU, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
A lush tree turned silver with snow catches a wondering eye in Saga, the Japanese prefecture best known for the fine pottery produced there. Your Shot member Hideki Mizuta says that this photo captured a moment when a usually “green” region “turned into a snow world.” PHOTOGRAPH BY HIDEKI MIZUTA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
No Withering Vine
A green Asian vine snake (Ahaetulla nasuta), also known as a long-nosed whip snake, is well camouflaged in the lush foliage of Agumbe, a rain forest in Karnataka, India. The reptile’s head, slightly broader than its body and pointed at the nose, resembles the shape of a leaf, allowing it to remain well hidden in its verdant habitat.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ASHEESH K CHOPRA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
An Enduring Tribute
The gleaming white marble of the Taj Mahal's main mausoleum is framed by a red sandstone archway of the complex’s mosque and assembly hall. Arches feature prominently in Islamic architecture. The Taj Mahal was built in the 1600s in Agra, India, as a tribute by emperor Shah Jahan to his favorite wife, who died in childbirth.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CRESCENT MEDIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Beauty Close to Home
Your Shot photographer Omer Shemesh didn’t have to travel far to snap this colorful and exotic-looking image; he found this Thomisus onustus, commonly known as a flower crab spider, clinging to a bloom in a field next to his house in Israel. “It's hard to shoot insects in macro,” he admits, “since they are usually not very patient when you get close, and run away.” PHOTOGRAPH BY OMER SHEMESH, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Arctic Circle Allure
An aerial view of the southern end of Værøy, one of Norway’s Lofoten Islands, reveals a towering ridge running through it like a bony spine. Værøy is home to a population of fewer than 800 people but millions of nesting seabirds, and it frequently hosts bird-watchers who flock to the island by helicopter or ferry. PHOTOGRAPH BY ISABELLE BACHER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Fairgoers are entertained by a “beautiful dancing horse [at the] Nagaur Cattle Fair,” Your Shot community member Manthan Joshi explains. The eight-day fair, held in Rajasthan, India, takes place annually. Although it’s primarily an animal-trading event, the fair also includes bazaars, music, sporting events, and entertainment such as performances by folk dancers. PHOTOGRAPH BY MANTHAN JOSHI, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Go With the Floe
Walruses on an ice floe off of Kvitøya (White Island) in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago return the gaze of Your Shot member Christian Aslund’s camera lens. These animals are most often found near the Arctic Circle, an environment to which they’re perfectly suited, thanks to their blubbery bodies, ice-piercing tusks, and ability to slow their heartbeat to withstand the freezing water temperatures. PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTIAN ASLUND, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT