The Best Picture Of Each Year Since 2006, According To The Internet

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Voting Rules

Vote up the photos that deserve to win top honors.

Each year since 2006, Wikimedia Commons holds a vote-off of all its featured images submitted by users over the course of the year. Other users award the "Picture of the Year" to one photo, with two runners-up featured as well.

While of course these aren't all the images on the internet, the winners are the cream of the crop of an extensive collection of impressive annual snaps. Subjects include everything from breathtaking landscapes to unique cultural phenomena, and come together to create an awe-inducing and informative collection.

Vote up the photos you think most deserved to be crowned “Picture of the Year.” 


  • 1
    596 VOTES

    2014 - Butterfly Feeding On Turtle Tears In Ecuador

    Description: 

    Two Julia Butterflies (Dryas iulia) drinking the tears of turtles (Podocnemis expansa?) in Ecuador. Turtles bask on a log as the butterflies sip from their eyes. This "tear-feeding" is a phenomenon known as lachryphagy.

    Context: Butterflies will drink turtle tears to obtain salt and minerals, while the turtle gets its eyes cleaned in a symbiotic relationship. Butterflies will also seek out such nutrients from liquids like urine and human sweat.

    596 votes
  • 2
    584 VOTES

    2018 - Evolution Of A Tornado

    Description: 

    Photomontage of the evolution of a tornado: Composite of eight images shot in two sequences as a tornado formed north of Minneola, Kansas on May 24, 2016.

    Context: While Kansas was popularized as the tornado state in The Wizard of Oz, the storms frequently endanger a number of US States. In 2022, the states with the most tornadoes were (in descending order): Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Minnesota, and Florida. Sixth place went to Kansas.

    584 votes
  • 3
    521 VOTES

    2020 - Common Kingfisher Hunting In Water

    Description: 

    Alcedo atthis (common kingfisher) hunting in water. Natural reserves and contiguous areas of the Po River belt, Provincia di Vercelli, Piemonte, Italy.

    Context: As its name suggests, the kingfisher is one of the most skilled fish hunters. It can spot a fish from more than 30 feet above the water, hovering in place to keep its eyes on its prey. Then the bird flies down in a dart-like fashion, beak first, to retrieve its catch.

    521 votes
  • 4
    529 VOTES

    2006 - Aurora Borealis

    2006 - Aurora Borealis
    Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Joshua Strang / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Description: 

    Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska — The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, shines above Bear Lake.

    Context: The phenomenon we know as the Northern Lights begins on the surface of the sun, as solar activity emits a cloud of gas that eventually collides with Earth's magnetic field.

    At Bear Lake, AK, the lights are best spotted in the winter months when the days are longest, between December and February.

    529 votes
  • 5
    457 VOTES

    2010 - Laser Toward The Center Of The Milky Way

    Description: 

    In mid-August 2010 ESO Photo Ambassador Yuri Beletsky snapped this photo at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, Chile. A group of astronomers were observing the centre of the Milky Way using the laser guide star facility at Yepun, one of the four Unit Telescopes of the Very Large Telescope (VLT).

    Yepun’s laser beam crosses the southern sky and creates an artificial star at an altitude of 90 km high in the Earth's mesosphere. The Laser Guide Star (LGS) is part of the VLT’s adaptive optics system and is used as a reference to correct the blurring effect of the atmosphere on images. The colour of the laser is precisely tuned to energise a layer of sodium atoms found in one of the upper layers of the atmosphere - one can recognise the familiar colour of sodium street lamps in the colour of the laser. This layer of sodium atoms is thought to be a leftover from meteorites entering the Earth’s atmosphere. 

    When excited by the light from the laser, the atoms start glowing, forming a small bright spot that can be used as an artificial reference star for the adaptive optics. Using this technique, astronomers can obtain sharper observations. For example, when looking towards the centre of our Milky Way, researchers can better monitor the galactic core, where a central supermassive black hole, surrounded by closely orbiting stars, is swallowing gas and dust.

    Taken with a wide angle lens, this photo covers about 180° of the sky.

    457 votes
  • 6
    480 VOTES

    2011 - Lake Bondhus, Norway

    Description: 

    A view of Lake Bondhus in Norway, and in the background of the Bondhus glacier, part of the Folgefonna National Park.

    Context: The hike to the glacier is known as “Ice Road,” a historic pathway once used to transport ice for refrigeration to coastal towns. In 2005, Queen Sonja of Norway officially opened the Folgefonna National Park, leaving her autograph on a rock beside the lake.

    480 votes