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A green tree frog in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas
Craig McIntyre

11 Phenomenal Images From the National Park Foundation’s Annual Photo Contest

Original image
A green tree frog in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas
Craig McIntyre

Each year, the National Park Foundation’s Share the Experience photo contest recognizes some of the best photography taken inside U.S. National Parks and federal lands, awarding up to $10,000 to amateur photographers and wilderness aficionados. Between late April and December 2016, photographers submitted more than 16,500 images to the contest.

The grand prize-winning image, taken by Craig McIntyre of Rockport, Texas, captures a green tree frog in its marsh habitat in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Texas. The photo will appear on the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass for the year.

Below are 10 more prize-winning images from the Share the Experience contest, including general contest winners and honorable mentions in six subcategories (Adventure and Outdoor Recreation; Historical and Cultural; Scenic, Seasons, and Landscapes; Family, Friends, and Fun; Wildlife; and Night Skies).

SECOND PLACE

two men canoe across a steaming lake surrounded by evergreen trees
Superior National Forest, Minnesota. Image Credit: Gary Hamer

THIRD PLACE

young boy in a floppy blue hat and a yellow t-shirt fords a stream between tall canyon walls
Zion National Park, Utah. Image Credit: Christopher Regala

WINNER, SCENIC CATEGORY

towers of rocks on a jagged hill against a clear blue sky
Fantasy Canyon, Utah. Image Credit: John Donofrio

WINNER, WILDLIFE CATEGORY

gray and brown owl sits in a pine tree staring at the camera
Yellowstone National Park. Image Credit: Matthew Sorum

WINNER, NIGHT SKIES CATEGORY

a beach with tall rock formations against a blue-black starry sky
Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Image Credit: Matthew Hanna

WINNER, HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL CATEGORY

dam illuminated at night with an arched bridge behind it and a pink sky
Hoover Dam, Nevada. Image Credit: Michael McCook

WINNER, ADVENTURE CATEGORY

three dirt bikers ride across desert rock formations with trees in the background
White Ridge Trail System, New Mexico. Image Credit: Raymond Lee

WINNER, EVERY KID IN THE PARK CATEGORY

a young boy in camouflage and rubber boots sits at the end of a lake at sunset with his fishing pole sticking into the water
Oologah Lake, Oklahoma. Image Credit: Joshua Slezak

FAN FAVORITE

a continuous stream of water flows down a forest waterfall surrounded by trees with yellow and orange leaves
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio. Image Credit: Rob Blair

FAN FAVORITE

dark tree branches set against the illumination of the Washington monument at night
National Mall and Memorial, Washington, D.C. Image Credit: Jack Hanton

All images courtesy the National Park Foundation’s 2016 Share the Experience Photo Contest.

Original image
A green tree frog in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA
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Space
Mind-Bending New Images of Jupiter From Juno's Latest Flyby
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NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA

NASA’s Juno spacecraft left Earth in August 2011, and has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016, completing its eighth close flyby in late October. While flying beneath the dense cloud cover that obscures the solar system’s largest planet, it captured some incredible close-up views of the gas giant, as Newsweek reports.

With the JunoCam community, the public can alert NASA to points of interest and help direct the Juno mission. Citizen scientists have processed the raw, black-and-white images Juno beams back to Earth to highlight particular atmospheric features, collage multiple images, and enhance colors, releasing the edited color images before the space agency has a chance to. A whole new batch just emerged from the latest flyby, and they're well worth a look. Take a peek at a few below, and see more at the JunoCam website.

A swirl appears on Jupiter's surface.
NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Shawn Handran // Public Domain

A partial view of Jupiter
NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Shawn Handran // Public Domain

A close-up view of Jupiter's surface
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA

A view of Jupiter's surface
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA

[h/t Newsweek]

Original image
A green tree frog in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Satellite Images Show Mysterious Nan Madol Ruins From a Brand-New Perspective

The ancient complex of Nan Madol on the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia has fascinated visitors for centuries. Now, thanks to satellite technology, researchers have captured the ruins from a perspective that's rarely seen.

As Yahoo 7 reports, the new aerial footage debuted on an episode of the Science Channel series What on Earth? In the recent installment, experts discussed Nan Madol, a chain of intricate, human-made islands that is sometimes called the "Venice of the Pacific" and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Nan Madol means "spaces between," a reference to the network of canals connecting the ruins.

The 100-odd blocky stone structures were built atop coral reefs in a lagoon off a remote island in the western Pacific Ocean. The walls of the artificial islands can reach up to 25 feet tall and are 17 feet thick in some parts. In total, the rocks that make up the site weigh nearly 827,000 tons. Archaeologists believe that portions of the city have been there for more than 1000 years, and that the site once served as the ceremonial, political, and residential hub for the native Saudeleur people. Little is known about how its builders were able to move such massive amounts of stone without levers, pulleys, or metal. 

Today, the Micronesian island of Pohnpei is home to 36,000 people, and even among locals, the landmark is notorious. Legends of spirits haunting the area have earned it the nickname "Ghost City." The ruins give off such an eerie vibe that H.P. Lovecraft used them as inspiration for the home of Cthulhu in a short story.

[h/t Yahoo 7]

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