Prize-winning microscopic photography captures the marvels of what we can’t see by Kate Groetzinger

Scientists aren’t the only ones who can experience the beauty of a mouse colon at 63x magnification—and it is beautiful. At high magnification, even a worm or a moth’s antenna can be stunning, and photomicrography makes these wonders of the atomic world visible to everyone.

Photomicrography is the art of taking photos through the lens of a microscope. Every year, camera maker Nikon chooses the best photomicrographic images in its “Small World” competition; this year’s winner (above) is a picture of a honey bee’s eye covered in dandelion pollen, taken by Australian high school teacher and beekeeper Ralph Grimm.

A few of the year’s top submissions:

Mouse colon colonized with human microbiota, magnified 63x.

Adult marine worm, magnified 30x.

Transverse section of an ostrich fern, magnified 250x.

Tentacles of a carnivorous plant (Drosera sp.), magnified 20x.

Vilene fabric (glue drops shown in blue), magnified 80x.

Antenna of a male moth (Anisota sp.), magnified 100x.

Antenna of a male moth (Anisota sp.), magnified 100x.

Alona guttata (water flea), magnified 200x.

Scales on moth wing, magnified 300x.

Scales on moth wing, magnified 300x.

Liverwort (Lepidolaena taylorii) plant showing modified leaves (water sacs), magnified 100x.

Red fossil coral slab, magnified 20x.

Starfish imaged using confocal microscopy, magnified 10x.

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