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Top Twenty Photos From Nikon's Microscope Photography Competition

This year marked the 45th year of Nikon's Small World microscope photography competition, called the Photomicrography Competition, and the winners have just been announced. In order to be valid for entry, photographs must be taken using a light microscope. The subjects of the competition entries range from animal embryos to cells to plants, but they all have one thing in common: these are not things we can see with the naked eye. And they are absolutely beautiful. Here are the top twenty photos from the competition, in order. Enjoy.

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  • 1
    photo of flourescent turtle embryo
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    In order to photograph this turtle embryo, the photographer had to stack together hundreds of images. The result is an amazing fluorescent photo of a tiny turtle embryo, which one first place for the 2019 competition. 


  • 2
    colourful flourescent photo of three stentors with black background
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    These weird, trippy objects are stentors, types of single-celled protozoa that live in fresh water and feed on algae. 


  • 3
    photo of alligator embryo just forming
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    An alligator embryo, twenty days into the animal's development, just as it's nerves and skeleton are forming. 


  • 4
    a close up image of male mosquito's bushy antennae
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    The flamboyant antennae of a male mosquito. 


  • 5
    a close up of a symmetrical snowflake
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    A transmitted-light image of a perfect snowflake. 


  • 6
    close up photo of white hairy spider many eyes
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    The many eyes of a small spider, covered in soft white hair. 


  • 7
    close up image of stamen of red carnation flower releasing pollen
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    The stamen of a Chinese red carnation releasing pollen. 


  • 8
    photo of blue and white pattern inside of frozen water magnified eight times
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    This is the inside of a frozen water droplet magnifies eight times. 


  • 9
    cross section of tulip bud showing curling petals inside
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    The cross section of a tulip bud, with the top of the bud sliced off to show the delicate curling of the petals and stamen. 


  • 10
    microscope photo showing red and blue cells of cow
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    These are the cells of a young cow that undergoing the telophase stage of mitosis, when they form two nuclei before splitting into new cells. 


  • 11
    microscope photo of fruit fly's ovaries colored yellow green purple
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    The ovaries of a fruit fly, with the nuclei stained green, the follicle cells magenta and the protein filament F-actin colored yellow. 


  • 12
    close up microscope photo of a mosquito larva
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    A mosquito larva. 


  • 13
    close up image of cubic red crystal growing on yellow matter
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    A mineral composed of copper oxide called cuprite


  • 14
    close up of female lynx spider with stripes on body
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    A fierce-looking female lynx spider. 


  • 15
    microscopic image of pregnant daphnia magna, colorful crustacean
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    A pregnant Daphnia magna, a type of freshwater crustacean. 


  • 16
    hundreds of yellow and black spheres close housefly's eyes magnified
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    A housefly's eye magnified fifty times. 


  • 17
    surreal yellow and white shapes made by vitamin c crystal
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    A crystal of absorbic acid called vitamin C revealing an amazing shape under a microscope.  


  • 18
    photo of mushroom shaped crystal of cristobalute suspended in quartz
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    A mushroom-shaped crystal of cristobalite suspended in clear quartz.  


  • 19
    red embryo of california two spot octopus
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    The embryo of a California two-spot octopus


  • 20
    close up picture of the blood vessels of a mouse after it had heart attack
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    The blood vessels of a mouse after it had a heart attack. 

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