These are 15 of the best photos scientists took in 2017 — and they show the world in stunning ways

Scientists explore the most unique corners of our world. They survey the frigid waters underneath the edge of Antarctica, watch polar bears circle as they look for a patch of ice to rest on, and gaze up at the stars from the high altitude Chilean desert.

They're able to capture some pretty stunning photos while they do all that.

Some of the best of these images are showcased in the annual Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition.

Check out a selection of the finalists and winners below.

The best photos taken by scientists in 2017
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The best photos taken by scientists in 2017

In Nahuelbuta National Park, Chile, a tiny acari gets trapped by an elastic bluish thread of a spiderweb.

"Acari trapped in spiderweb" by Bernardo Segura. Honorable mention: Micro-imaging. Photo by Bernardo Segura/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

At the current Pu'u O'o eruption site of the active Kilauea volcano in Hawaii's Volcano National Park, the lava flows that created the Big Island still make it grow every year.

"Pele's fire" by Sabrina Koehler. Honorable mention: Earth Science and Climatology. Photo by Sabrina Koehler/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

A family of olive oil droplets hang from a soft silk thread.

"Olive oil drop family hanging together" by Hervé Elettro. Winner: Micro-imaging. Photo by Hervé Elettro/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

This is a 50-hour old embryo from a tardigrade (aka water bear), a type of tiny invertebrate that is so hardy it can survive in space. 

"Water bear embryo" by Vladimir Gross. Runner up: Micro-imaging. Photo by Vladimir Gross/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

A polar bear near the eastern Greenland coast gazes into the water.

"Respiro" by Antonia Doncila. Winner: Behaviour. Photo by Antonia Doncila/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

These Arctic terns on the island of Svalbard made a clever home on a conveniently placed abandoned shovel.

"Breeding" by David Costantini. Runner up: Behaviour. Photo by David Constantini/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

The small tree frog emerges from the Brazilian semi-arid Caatinga desert to mate and turns from brown to green when the summer rains arrive.

"The rainy season, the green tree frog, and the maintenance of life" by Carlos Jared. Honorable mention: Ecology and Environmental Science. Photo by Carlos Jared/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

The total eclipse of 2017 seen from the path of totality in Georgia.

"Diamond ring through thin clouds" by Wei-Feng Xue. Runner up: Astronomy. Photo by Wei-Feng Xue/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

Russian research vessel Akademik Tryoshnikov rests its bow against the Mertz Glacier in Eastern Antarctica to deploy an underwater drone.

"Bow first" by Giuseppe Suaria. Runner up: Earth Science and Climatology. Photo by Giuseppe Suaria/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

An Indian roller shows off its scorpion prey by tossing it up into the air. 

"Toss the scorpion - Indian roller playing with the kill" by Susmita Datta. Honorable mention: Behaviour. Photo by Susmita Datta/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

The rocky Chilean landscape by the European Southern Observatory is like an otherworldly frame for the cosmic display of the Milky Way. 

"Within Reach" by Petr Horálek. Honorable mention: Astronomy. Photo by Petr Horálek/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

This photo of a Twin Otter airplane flying over a crevassing ice sheet in Southern Antarctica was shot in 1995 and is now scanned into the British Antarctic Survey. 

"Icy sugar cubes" by Peter Convey. Overall winner and winner: Earth Science and Climatology. Photo by Peter Convey/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

Ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere create the image of a light pillar underneath the moon as seen from the South Pole. 

"Lunar spotlight, South Pole, Antarctica" by Daniel Michalik. Winner: Astronomy. Photo by Daniel Michalik/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

Killer whales suddenly emerge in a bay at Subantarctic Marion Island, startling a huddle of King Penguins. 

"Waiting in the shallows" by Nico de Bruyn. Winner: Ecology and Environmental Science. Photo by Nico de Bruyn/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition

Pitcher plants secrete nectar along the rim of their pitcher to attract and trap insects, but one very special ant species is able to climb in and out of the pitcher for a snack.

"Invincible ants" by Thomas Endlien. Runner up: Ecology and Environmental Science. Photo by Thomas Endlien/Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition


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