Light Beyond the Bulb

Image Collection

The glow of a candle, the rise of the Sun, and the illumination of a lamp are things that can bring comfort and warmth to our lives. Humans are, after all, drawn to light. But there is much more to light than meets the eye. Light takes on many forms that are largely invisible and undetectable without modern technology. Light allows us to communicate, entertain, explore, and understand the world we inhabit and the Universe we live in. This exhibition series shows the myriad of things light can do, and how it plays a critical role in our lives every day. Explore the collection of images below, create your own exhibit to host in a free public space, or suggest a new image to add.

Please note: The majority of the high resolution files are protected due to the agreement with the photographers/artists/scientists who make a living off of their work. You can access those files for free educational use if you sign up with us (see handouts - agreement & application forms) and use the files to support the International Year of Light. We also have a handful of images available for press & public purposes without a password. Those open source images may be found at the bottom of

Polarized Photomicrograph
Credit: Marek Mís
Credit: Frank Fox,
Nerve Cells of Eye's Retina
Credit: Wei Li, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health
Blueline Snapper
Credit: Georgette Douwma/Science Photo Library
Monarch Butterflies
Credit: J L Spaulding, creative commons license
hot air balloon
Blue Skies
Credit: © Tomas Castelazo, Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0
Credit: J L Spaulding, creative commons license
Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Ed Thompson
sun eclipse
Credit: Colin Legg
Lightning Strikes Dubai
Lightning Strikes
Credit: Michael Shainblum
Solar Panels Colorado, US
Solar Panels
Credit: Dennis Schroeder/NREL
Car Headlights< Belfort, France
Car Headlights
Credit: Thomas Bresson,
noctilucent clouds
Noctilucent Clouds
Credit: NASA
comet hale bopp long island
Comet Hale-Bopp from Long Island
Credit: Donald Lubowich
Credit: Michael Shainblum
tatio geysers
Tatio Geysers
Credit: 2014 © J.M. Lecleire/PNA
earth at night
Earth At Night
Credit: Marc Imhoff, Craig Mayhew, Robert Simmon/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Christopher Elvidge/NOAA, NGDC
Earth (Daylight)
Credit: Image created by Reto Stöckli for the NASA GSFC Earth Observatory
full moon
Full Moon
Credit: Jean-Luc Dauvergne/Ciel Et Espace
mars sunset
Sunset on Mars
Credit: NASA/JPL/Texas A&M/Cornell
Rho Ophiuchi And Antares
Credit: Australian Astronomical Observatory/David Malin
Eagle Nebula
Credit: T.A, Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage and B.A. Wolpa (NOAO/AURA/NSF)
NGC 602
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. Potsdam/L. Oskinova et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Bullet Cluster
Credit: X-ray: M.Markevitch for NASA/CXC/CfA and visible light by D. Clowe for NASA/STScI; Magellan/U. Arizona and ESO
Cosmic Microwave Background
Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team
Credit: Marek Mís
astrocycle brain cells
Astrocyte Brain Cells
Credit: Nancy Kedersha/Science Photo Library
White Matter Fibers
Credit: Phil Hart
rainbow lands on cow
Rainbow Lands On Cow
Credit: Lisa & Jeffrey Smith
Lake Reflections
Credit: Prabhu B Doss
Red Sunset
Credit: J L Spaulding, creative commons license
sun rays over Iowa
Sun Rays
Credit: Thomas DeHoff
mars sunset
Credit: Colin Legg
lightbulbs in X-ray light
Lightbulbs in X-ray Light
Credit: Dr. Paula Fontaine
Laser In the Sky Atacama Desert, Chile
Lasers In The Sky
Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi
Aurora Borealis
Aurora Borealis (Red & Green)
Credit: Stan Richard.
lenticular clouds
Lenticular Clouds
Credit: Serge Ouachée
Geminid Meteor
Geminid Meteor
Credit: Wally Pacholka/
the milky way
The Milky Way
Credit: Rogelio Bernal Andreo/ et Espace
milky way over baobabs
Milky Way Over Baobabs
Credit: 2014 © Mohammad Taha Ghouckkanly/PNA
sunrise from space
Sunrise From Space
Credit: NASA/JSC
earth image
Earth (Day & Night)
Credits: Data-AVHRR, NDVI, Seawifs, MODIS, NCEP, DMSP and Sky2000 star catalog; AVHRR and Seawifs texture-Reto Stockli; Visualization-Marit Jentoft-Nils
lunar eclipse
Lunar Eclipse
Credit: Akira Fujii/Ciel et Espace
Full Disk Ultraviolet View Of Sun
Our Sun in Ultraviolet
Credit: NASA/SDO
helix nebula
Helix Nebula
Credit: ESO
Cassiopeia A
Antennae Galaxies
Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STSCI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration
Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
an optical microscopey
Credit: Frank Fox,
Mouse Retina
Credit: National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Flight Path Of Fireflies
Credit: Tsuneaki Hiramatu
earth atmosphere/
Credit: Sue Vincent
Sandstone Mesas With Rainbow
Credit: David Parker/Science Photo Library
Credit: Thomas DeHoff
Pink & Purple Sunset
Credit: Richard F Staples, Jr.
Credit: Jp Marquis
Fiber Optics
Fiber Optics, Connecting the World
Credit: Optoelectronics Research Centre, Southampton, UK
Applications of LASERs
Applications of LASERs
Credit: Greg Kuebler, JILA, courtesy: National Science Foundation
the grid Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S
Welcome to the Grid
Credit: NASA/Johnson Space Center
earth image
Aurora Borealis
Credit: US Air Force, Senior Airman Joshua Strang
Hurricane Isabel in the Atlantic Ocean
Weather Illuminated
Credit: NASA/JSC/Mike Trenchard
venus in transit
Venus In Transit
Credit: Phil Hart
Milky Way/Light Pollution
Milky Way/Light Pollution
Credit: Rogelio Bernal Andreo/ et Espace
Earth Lights From ISS
Earth Lights From ISS
Credit: NASA/JSC
earth atmosphere/
The Thin Blue Line
Credit: NASA
the earth at night image
Comet Hale-Bopp
Credit: Dan Schechter
sun eclipse
Total Solar Eclipse
Credit: Dan Schechter
orion nebula
Orion Nebula
Credit: ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit
Our Galaxy in Many Kinds of Light
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/UMass/D. Wang et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/D.Wang et al.; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSC/S.Stolovy
Hercules A
Hercules A
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO, Optical: NASA/STScI, Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech