In this world of many wonders, nature never ceases to surprise us. Some of the phenomena we observe around us could well be described as magic tricks manifested by the heavenly hands of nature. These remarkable sights, sometimes far beyond our stretch of imagination, make us wonder about the secrets of nature we are yet to discover. Here are some of the most stunning displays of nature’s brilliance:
NORTHERN LIGHTS AND LIGHT PILLARS
These celestial beams of light illuminate the night sky belittling the bevy of stars that surround them. The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis are formed because electrically charged particles from space excite atoms in Earth’s upper atmosphere, causing them to emit light.
Although the light pillars look a lot like Aurora, the two are not related. Light pillars are an optical phenomenon that takes place in freezing temperatures when light is refracted by ice crystals. They create an illusion of light extending upwards from the source of light. Alaska, Iceland, Canada, Norway and the USA are the best places to see these phenomena.
ZHANGYE DANXIA LANDFORMS
Wind and water erosion have worked wonders creating a colorful landscape in this geopark in China. It seems as if someone had graffitied the entire terrain with a myriad of vibrant colors! These boundless stripes are the result of mineral deposition over the red sandstone of the mountain range over millions of years. This site offers not only a promising photography experience but also a unique hiking experience for adventurous people. It is truly one of the greatest masterpieces of nature.
Have you ever imagined three suns rising all at once? Well, obviously they don’t but it seems like they do! Triple Sunrise is an optical illusion also known as Sun Dogs, caused when light from the Sun interacts with large flat hexagonal ice crystals high above in the clouds and gets refracted by around 22 degrees. If these ice crystals are oriented more randomly, a large ring around the sun appears(halo). Reflection of light also plays a part in the formation of white Sun Dogs. In Alaska, as the Sun is low during the Winter months, Sun Dogs are pretty common. However, in other countries, you may see it during Sunrise or Sunset if you are extremely lucky.
The Atacama Desert in Chile is one of the world’s driest deserts but once every five to seven years, this alluring stretch of rock and sand experiences unusually heavy rainfall causing flowers to bloom! The once barren landscape of the Desert transforms into a flowering desert (desierto florido). More than 200 different species of flowers exist, however this bloom is short-lived. This amazing phenomenon is called super bloom. Even the Death Valley of California experiences super blooms.
Just a few days ago, sparkling blue waves were observed on a few beaches on the East Coast of Chennai, attracting crowds of people who wished to spend their time “sea gazing”. The bedazzling phenomenon responsible for this is called Bioluminescence. It is caused by a class of algae called bioluminescent phytoplankton. When the waves hit the shore, microscopic phytoplankton convert chemical energy to electrical energy-emitting blue light. This rare sight can be seen in the Maldives, Cambodia and Lakshadweep Islands.
Known as the ‘Heaven on Earth’, Salar De Uyuni is a salt desert in Bolivia which will make you feel as though you are standing on a canvas that sketches the reflection of the sky above you. Salar De Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat (nearly 11,000 sq. km of white salt and rock formations) and for this very reason, it is also called the world’s largest mirror. An interesting fact is that many pink flamingos reside in this salt flat. The surreal experience of walking among the hazy clouds beneath your feet will indeed be a unique one!
There are many more stunning natural phenomena out there, and maybe even some more which are yet to be discovered. We must keep our eyes open as we never know which new magic trick Nature might have up its sleeve!