The world is home to an array of unique places. The world has an abundance of gorgeous scapes, from the majesty of Mt. Everest to the rushing waters of Victoria Falls. Overall, these attractions show curious, adventure-seeking tourists that nature is an incredible force. What’s more, many natural landmarks on earth create dazzling displays that are so gorgeous that they may as well be real-life science experiments!
8 Northern Lights
- Where: High-latitude destinations like Canada, Northern Europe, or Alaska
Also known as the Aurora Borealis, this beautiful phenomenon was originally named by Galileo Galilei, naming it after the Roman deities Aurora and Boreas. Undoubtedly, it’s a marvelous sight, constantly dazzling tourists visiting high-latitude destinations like Finland, Canada, or Alaska. However, this incredible phenomenon is possible thanks to science!
Specifically, the display of dancing lights is due to the collision of charged particles from the sun and the Earth’s atmosphere. Moreover, its color depends on the 'kind' of particles interacting with one another. For example, hues of yellow-green lights are made during the collision of oxygen particles present at 60 miles above the Earth’s surface.
7 The Grand Prismatic Spring
- Where: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
Those lucky enough to see the Grand Prismatic Spring will note two distinct features. Firstly, this iconic landmark at Yellowstone National Park is scorching hot. Secondly, the Grand Prismatic Spring emits a rainbow of colors, carrying shades of blue, orange, red, and yellow. Luckily, the wacky world of science is no stranger to this natural marvel.
The scorching waters of the Grand Prismatic Spring are heated by magma located deep in Earth’s crust. Moreover, the rich blue waters are thanks to the refraction of sun rays. Moreover, the surrounding shades of the orange and brown stem from the presence of heat-loving microbes (known as thermophiles) that produce pigments called chlorophyll and carotenoids, which produce green and orange hues.
6 Lake Hillier
- Where: Western Australia
Visitors may be stunned when they see how pink Lake Hillier is, which is incredibly pink. It’s no joke, though; this Australian lake is permanently pink and incredibly beautiful! Recently, researchers from the University of Vermont and Brisbane’s company Microba collaborated to investigate the nature of Lake Hillier. The researchers took microbial samples from the lake and analyzed them in the lab. Thus, the researchers discovered that Lake Hillier was home to about 500 microbes, some of which are extremophiles or organisms that thrive in extreme conditions, such as high temperatures or high salt environments.
5 Bioluminescent Waters
- Where : Thailand, Maldives, Florida
Looking to “glow up” a family vacation or couples getaway? Then consider visiting places like The Maldives’ Sea of Stars or Florida’s Cocoa Beach to experience a pretty phenomenon of lights and science! It's because these tropical waters are home to several species, like certain algae or fish, that produces light within their bodies, creating a phenomenon known as bioluminescence. This natural chemical process is actually a defense mechanism against predators to confuse and intimidate them. However, in order to see this incredible phenomenon, it’s advised to go on a clear night with a bright moon, as well as calm waters.
4 Darvaza Gas Crater
- Where To See It : Turkmenistan (Derweze)
Terrifyingly referred to as the Door To Hell or the Gates Of Hell, Turkmenistan’s Darvaza Gas Crater is so hot that one can crack a few eggs in it to make breakfast! Thus, travelers lucky enough to get their hands on a visa to Turkmenistan can visit this boiling crater. Though it looks like a scene out of a Hollywood action film, the Darvaza Gas Crater sits within one of the largest gas reserves in the world. It was created in the 1970s, when drillers from the Soviet Union drilled a hole into the earth, hoping to extract the precious natural gases from within.
However, disaster struck, and the ground collapsed in the area, forming the Darvaza Gas Crater. Once the crater was formed, it began spewing natural gas—specifically noxious methane—into the atmosphere. Hoping to get rid of the gas as soon as possible, geologists proposed igniting the gas and letting it burn for a couple of weeks. However, estimates were wrong, and the fire continues burning brightly after 50 years! Despite its growing popularity, there are talks of the Turkmenistan government finally shutting down this gas crater for good due to health concerns of nearby communities.
3 Namaskard Geothermal Area
- Where To See It : Námaskarð Road, Iceland
Don’t be put off by the smell of eggs in this natural landmark, as Iceland’s Namaskard Geothermal Area will make travelers feel like they have stepped into a different planet. The high heat beneath the Earth’s surface results in a barren landscape with highly acidic soils lacking growing plants! Plus, Namaskard is blessed with an array of mud springs and steam vents (known as fumaroles) that emit pungent-smelling sulfur. Due to its intense heat, the hot springs seen in Namaskard are boiling, paired with poisonous emissions of fumes. This means that tourists need to keep safe by walking along the paved trails!
2 Ijen Volcano’s Blue Fire
- Where To See It : East Java, Indonesia
Ijen Volcano is perhaps home to some of the bluest waters in the world. Moreover, many science-loving travelers may perceive East Java’s volcano complex as 'nature’s chemistry lab.' While it has an acidic crater lake full of heavy metals, it also has vents spewing sulfur (making it a good place for sulfur mining). Moreover, Ijen Volcano is best known for its blue fire, creating a dazzling light show for all to see. However, this rare phenomenon is due to ignited sulfur gas emerging from the volcano’s cracks at extremely high temperatures (around 1,112 °F or 600 °C). To see this beautiful display, the blue fire is best seen at night (which is why tourists often visit Ijen at midnight)!
1 Lunar Rainbows
- Where To See It : Zimbabwe (Livingstone)
If the name 'lunar rainbows' isn’t pretty enough, this amazing sight is also known as a moonbow. Lunar rainbows are simply rainbows created when water particles refract light from the moon. Thus, this means that a moonbow is only visible at night! This rare yet stunning occurrence is only found in a few places around the world, particularly Victoria Falls. To view this stunning live science experiment, take a tour at Victoria Falls at night during a full moon.