Have you ever seen a rainbow or a falling star? Have you ever looked at the Milky Way or studied the moon? Perhaps you’ve visited the Grand Canyon or been on an African safari. Whatever the case, nature is an exquisite canvas filled with remarkable and awe-inspiring phenomenon.
The world’s greatest masterpieces occur in nature, making for unspeakable displays of beauty and heart-wrenching tragedy that look like something straight from a science fiction movie. From something as beautiful as a thunderstorm to even the devastating effects of an earthquake, the acts of nature differ in magnitude or intensity but, nevertheless, forever affect the lives of nearby residents and witnesses.
Imagining a natural event is often left to one’s creativity but, on rare occasions, people get to witness some of the Earth’s most beautiful occurrences that are otherwise hard to fathom. Thanks to these moments, we bring you 15 exquisite wonders of the world that will inspire you and change your perspective of natural beauty.
#15 – Dirty Thunderstorms
Thunderstorms are quite common, especially in the middle of summer when the atmosphere creates an ideal setting for the perfect storm. But, have you ever seen a dirty thunderstorm? A rare phenomenon, dirty thunderstorms are associated with large volcanic eruptions that are sure to take your breath away. Volcanic photographers are some of the few who get to see such beautiful events, which occur most frequently in Sakurajima, Japan. If you’re the adventurous type, grab your passport and get ready for the storm of a lifetime!
#14 – The Catatumbo Lightning
Have you ever seen a real lightning show? Seen in Venezuela, Catatumbo lightning is nature’s fireworks show and is considered an atmospheric phenomenon that only occurs over the mouth of the Catatumbo River, earning its name. The lightning forms due to the diurnal wind patterns and occurs several hours per day, almost every day of the entire year. Besides its beauty, the Catatumbo lightning show is notable for the fact that it occurs in the same place, night after night, making it one of the most reliable natural phenomenon on our list!
#13 – Christmas Island’s Red Crabs
Why did the chicken cross the road? On Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, the question is “Why did the crab cross the road?” Where in the world would you ever imagine crossing a street entirely made of red crabs? The Christmas Island red crab is a species of red crab that is considered an epidemic as an estimated 43.7 million crabs inhabit the island. Because of the native critters, Christmas Island has become a famous tourist destination for crab lovers flocking to see the vast red seas of crabs. Needless to say, we’re pretty sure of the local restaurant specials!
#12 – Monarch Butterfly Migration
Many places around the world have butterfly sanctuaries that house gorgeous species of butterflies but, the annual migration of North America’s monarch butterfly is truly a sight to see. The monarch is the only species of butterfly known to make a two-way migration similar to that of birds. Because of the vast number of butterflies that flock the surrounding areas as they travel to their second home in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico, tourists plan their trips months in advance to witness this splendid sight.
#11 – Spiderweb Everywhere
Walking through an attic or even a basement, you are sure to swat away a hanging cobweb that stands in your way. If we told you that the white in this picture wasn’t snow but was actually cobwebs, would you believe it? Taking cobweb swatting to an entirely new level, an area of Australia was overcome by millions upon millions of spiders, causing people to flee and evacuate their homes. With mass evacuations, the spiders also took care to leave the area, which resulted in an endless supply of cobwebs to serve as a reminder of this scary spider situation!
#10 – Sailing Stone
In school, we learned that, thanks to gravity, rocks do not move without force. But, in Death Valley National Park in California, rocks defy the odds of gravity in what are known as sailing stones. These so called stones appear to navigate their way across the dried lake bed, leaving a trail behind them. Puzzled by the movement of these gigantic stones, a NASA scientist even conducted an experiment to solve the puzzle. Rather than base the phenomenon on scientific fact, it sure is more fun to enjoy the mystery that surrounds these sailing rocks!
#9 – Lenticular clouds
Cue the spooky alien music and dim the lights, there’s been a sighting! How many times during your childhood, and maybe even your adult life, have you looked up into the clouds to try and imagine different patterns of creatures? Known as lenticular clouds, this rare phenomenon is a lens-shaped cloud that is typically formed where stable moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains. When this happens, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the mountain’s downwind side, adding to the spookiness of this cloud sighting!
#8 – Mammatus Clouds
The second cloud formation on our list, these clouds look like a precursor to a wicked storm, perhaps like the one in The Wizard of Oz! Known as mammatus clouds, these formations are pouch-like protrusions that hang from the underside of clouds. These clouds often form after a tornado or a rain shower and are truly a sight to behold. At times, the changing color of the sky adds to the beauty of these marshmallow creations, making a truly magnificent and unforgettable sky!
#7 – Bio-luminescent Waves
Have you ever walked the beach at night and witnessed a sky full of gorgeous stars? What if you could see those stars in the sand, creating a beach that glows like a starry night sky? Common in San Diego, Puerto Rico and the Maldives, glowing beaches like this exist where the coast takes on a beautiful celestial glow. Though it’s undeniably magical, the true reason behind the glow is the product of phytoplantkons and other sea creatures who use bio-luminescence to attract prey. Whatever the reason, we love the idea of a romantic and starry beach!
#6 – Light Pillars
Have you ever looked out across the cityscape to see vibrant city lights against the night sky? Though cityscapes offer exquisite views, light pillars like the ones pictured here are commonly seen in the arctic regions. Considered an optical phenomenon where columns of light can be seen emanating from above or below a light source, the result is a breathtaking view of streaming light. Why the arctic? Light pillars occur when natural or artificial light reflects off of flat ice crystals in the air close to the Earth’s surface. The arctic atmosphere makes for ideal conditions to see this incredible light show!
#5 – Frost Flowers
“You can call me ‘Flower’, if you want to.” Despite being named flowers, frost flowers are not really flowers at all. Made of ice crystals and thin layers of ice from long-stemmed plants, these flowers take their shape as ice forms exquisite patterns that curl into petals. The petals make these natural formations resemble flowers which, like their namesake, are extremely delicate and tend to break when touched or rustled even by gentle breezes!
#4 – Auroras
Known as the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis, if you’re a resident of the northern part of the world, you have most likely already seen this incredible phenomenon. The Aurora is an exquisite natural display of light in the sky that results from collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere and charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere. This collision creates an unforgettable light show that causes people from around the world to flock to the north just to get a glimpse of this spectacular event!
#3 – Morning Glory Clouds
The last cloud formation on our list, these mysterious and remarkable morning glory clouds are so unique that they have attracted the attention of countless nature photographers and pilots around the world. Morning Glory clouds arrive regularly each spring and are commonly observed across the skies of countries all over the world. Oddly enough, the southern part of Northern Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria is actually the only known location where the clouds can be predicted and observed on a somewhat regular basis.
#2 – Fire Rainbows
With lucky charms and pots of gold, who doesn’t get excited about seeing a rainbow? During the summer, some people notice special cloud formations in the sky that appear to look like a rainbow-filled cloud. Despite looking like they are on fire with their red wispy hues, these rainbows are not on fire nor are they actual rainbows. The so-called “fire rainbows” are an optical phenomenon formed by the refraction of sunlight or moonlight in plate-shaped ice crystals that are suspended in the atmosphere. Either way, these fire rainbows are nothing short of a magical experience well-deserving of a pot of gold!
#1 – Triple Sun
While we know good and well that there is only one sun, this incredible phenomenon known as Sundog or Triple Sun is an actual occurrence that makes it seem like there are three suns. Occurring in certain locations around the world, the triple sun is another optical illusion that is caused by tiny snow crystals. Regardless of the explanation, it is no doubt that people are enchanted and awed by this truly unique and extremely rare occurrence!