It's easy to get lost in cars and offices and grocery stores and forget that there's a bigger, more beautiful world we don't always get to see. But there's stunning stuff happening every day, in some cases right outside your door. So let's take a whirl through some of the most incredible, sometimes mind-boggling phenomena the Earth has to offer \u2014 along with\u00a0a little of the science behind them. 1. Volcanic lightning That's right,\u00a0volcanoes\u00a0can produce\u00a0lightning. It's pretty hard to study, but researchers\u00a0have a few ideas\u00a0about what causes it. One of the most common is that during an eruption, ash picks up so much friction that the build-up of\u00a0static electricity\u00a0causes lightning. VolcanoDiscovery 2. Fire rainbows \u2014 sorry, we mean 'circumhorizon arcs' These beautiful sky paintings have nothing to do with fire or rain, as weather-loving people are\u00a0very quick\u00a0to point out. They're\u00a0actually caused\u00a0by the sun, very high in the sky, shining through a particular type of ice cloud formation. That means that how\u00a0rare they vary\u00a0with how far north or south you are. Flickr 3. Halos Like fire rainbows,\u00a0halos\u00a0require just the\u00a0right formation\u00a0of ice crystals in clouds high above the surface of the Earth to bend light from the sun into a perfect ring. The same phenomenon can also happen with\u00a0moonlight, although moon halos are usually white and sun halos can be rainbow-colored, like this one. Lucas Jackson\/Reuters 4. Fire whirls, aka fire tornadoes It's pretty clear how this phenomenon got its nickname: It looks like a tornado, but it's made of fire. "It's just like a spinning column of flames," forecaster Michael Watkins told the\u00a0Los Angeles Times. They form when wind patterns twist an active fire into a column. About once a year, the US sees one large fire whirl \u2014\u00a0as tall as 1000 feet. Fire whirls\u00a0can spread fires\u00a0not only directly, but also by scattering burning debris. Wikimedia Commons 5. Penitentes These ice spikes, called penitentes, form at high altitudes, where sunlight turns ice directly into water vapor, rather than melting it to water. Sunbeams vaporize small dimples on the snow's surface. Then, the uneven surface directs sun into the dips and away from the peaks, exacerbating the trend. Penitentes can grow as tall as\u00a015 feet. news.softpedia.com Watch them grow and die: https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?vHjlkrVxBtIA 6. Pele's hair lava I know what you're thinking \u2014 I must have gotten my images mixed up, that's a bird's nest, there's no way that came out of a volcano. But it did, from Hawaii's Mt. Kilauea. The wind can catch individual droplets of lava and stretch them into what's basically\u00a0glass wires. Strands can reach\u00a0as long as\u00a06 feet. While in Hawaii the phenomenon is named for Pele, the goddess of volcanoes, it's also found in Norway, where it's known as\u00a0Witch's Hair. flickr.com 7. Salar de Uyuni Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is\u00a0both\u00a0the world's largest salt flat (it's about 4,000 square miles) and the home of half the planet's lithium, a key component in most\u00a0electronics' batteries. The wet season turns it into a perfectly reflective lake. Juan Karita\/AP 8. Synchronized hordes of cicadas If you live in Ohio, West Virginia, or their neighbors, you're experiencing one of the planet's entomological miracles:\u00a0periodical cicadas. Depending on the "brood" (this year's is\u00a0Brood V), periodical cicadas coordinate their life cycles over\u00a013 or 17 years. Brood V are 17-year cicadas, which means they were born in 1999 and have spent the years buried underground,\u00a0sucking the juice out of plant roots\u00a0\u2014 in fact, they're North America's\u00a0longest-living insect. Now, they're emerging, singing to mates, mating, laying eggs, and dying, all over the course of a few short weeks. Their offspring will emerge again in\u00a02033. Gerry Broome\/AP 9. Bismuth crystals Bismuth is a dense, super-shiny grey metal that's found in predictable places like\u00a0safety valves and paintings, but also\u00a0Pepto-Bismol. If you melt it, then cool it very slowly, bismuth forms iridescent cubic crystals \u2014 even\u00a0on your own stove. Grayson Cobb Watch that magic happen here: https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?vv8KYZHMkTHw 10. Blood Falls Blood Falls, in one of the driest regions of Antarctica, is fed by an\u00a0underground lake. It's full of bacteria scientists want to study because they fuel themselves with\u00a0sulfates, instead of sugars like we do. The water has so much iron in it that it\u00a0literally rusts\u00a0when it meets air, giving the waterfall its trademark color. YouTube 11. Desert roses Sting wasn't making it up: There really is such a thing as a desert rose. It's a special form of the mineral\u00a0gypsum\u00a0that can develop in dry sandy places that occasionally flood. The\u00a0switching between\u00a0wet and dry lets gypsum crystals form\u00a0between grains of sand, trapping them. the paleobear\/Flickr 12. Giant permafrost explosions As the climate is changing, new phenomena are developing \u2014 none quite so explosively as this one. It turns out that if you heat frozen methane trapped in the Siberian permafrost enough, it turns into a gas, eventually building up so much pressure that\u00a0the ground explodes. The loud boom and giant hole these bursts create were first reported in 2013. Daily Mail 13. Rainbow eucalyptus Hailing from the Philippines and Indonesia, the rainbow eucalyptus, also known as the\u00a0rainbow gum, is probably the most colorful tree on Earth. Its striped look is caused by bark\u00a0turning colors and peeling away\u00a0as it ages. The youngest bark is bright green because it contains chlorophyll (usually found in leaves), then turns the first purple then red then brown as it gets older, loses chlorophyll, and picks up tannins (also found in wine). In an ironic twist,\u00a0huge amounts\u00a0of rainbow eucalyptus wood pulp are turned into white paper every year. YouTube 14. Eye of the Sahara Formally known as the "Richtat structure," the Eye of the Sahara is in\u00a0Mauritania. Scientists are still trying to confirm how it was formed, but they think it's the eroded remains of a giant dome of the rock. If so, it would have originally formed when\u00a0magma pushing up\u00a0towards the surface of the Earth created a bulge, like a pimple. Each band of the ring is made of a different type of rock that\u00a0erodes at a different speed. It's also the "almost home"\u00a0signal for astronauts\u00a0landing in Florida. In fact,\u00a0astronauts are mostly responsible\u00a0for teaching us there's something there in the first place since the formation is difficult to recognize when you walk over it. Wikimedia Commons 15. Giant snake orgies Maybe you don't really like snakes, but how do you feel about tens of thousands of harmless snakes waiting out the winter in\u00a0underground limestone dens? That's a real thing in Manitoba, Canada, home of the highest concentration of snakes in the world,\u00a0according to National Geographic. In May, they slither out of their nests to mate, with dozens of smaller male snakes lurking, waiting to ambush larger females. "Imagine trying to find a slightly bigger piece of spaghetti in a colander of spaghetti, and it's moving," Bob Mason, a scientist at Oregon State University,\u00a0told The New York Times\u00a0this spring. Fred Greenslade\/Reuters Watch the snakes in action here: https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?vTST0AuFlJmY 16. Bright red Lake Natron Lake Natron, in Tanzania,\u00a0can hit\u00a0140 degrees Fahrenheit and, thanks to a\u00a0nearby volcano, alkalinity at the level of pure ammonia. That means it's almost deserted, except for a particularly hardy fish, the microbes that make it look red, and lesser flamingoes. (The birds\u00a0actually use the lake as their only breeding ground \u2014 not just because they're color coordinated, but because there aren't very many predators around to eat the chicks.) But animals that do die in the lake end up so coated in\u00a0baking soda\u00a0and similar chemicals that they look like they've been\u00a0turned to stone. Live Science 17. Waterspouts Waterspouts look like liquid tornadoes, but while they\u00a0can\u00a0form during storms, they can also develop on\u00a0calm, open ocean\u00a0\u2014 swirling towers of wind climbing up from the water to the sky. They are\u00a0most common\u00a0in the Florida Keys, although they've also been spotted on the Great Lakes. Neil Anderson \/Reuters 18. Clonal tree groves That looks like a forest, right? All those trees you could walk between? Wrong. It's all one tree. Underneath the soil, a dense network of roots connects all the shoots that look like\u00a047,000 trees from above. Called the\u00a0quaking aspen\u00a0for its fluttery leaves, it usually grows into groves of identical clones, although it can reproduce sexually\u00a0on special occasions. This grove, nicknamed\u00a0Pando, is one of the\u00a0oldest and largest\u00a0organisms in the world, although the original stem is long dead by now. Imgur 19. Lake Maracaibo, lightning capital of the world Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela sees more lightning strikes than anywhere else on Earth: In fact, there are thunderstorms here\u00a0300 days out of the year, according to a recent NASA study. The area is so stormy because of cool mountain breezes and warm, moist air clash over the lake, creating electricity. NaturePonics, LLC. 20. Eternal flame falls In upstate New York, near the Canadian border, there is a small waterfall hiding a big surprise: a shoot of fire about\u00a0eight inches tall. Behind the waterfall is a\u00a0natural gas seep\u00a0that feeds the flame. It's sheltered enough by the waterfall to stay lit pretty reliably, although hikers do\u00a0re-light\u00a0it if they see it's been blown out. (We should note that it's not 100% natural \u2014 but too cool to skip.) These burning gas seeps are actually\u00a0fairly common, but this one is\u00a0more interesting and younger\u00a0than most \u2014 and very photogenic. Kim Carpenter\/Flickr 21. Spotted Lake Canada's Spotted Lake is famous for its summer style, which is heavy on the polka dots. That's because the lake's water actually evaporates every summer. It leaves behind large spots, colorful deposits of\u00a0a dozen minerals. Further proof Spotted Lake is out of this world: Scientists are using it as a model for how\u00a0ancient Martian lakes\u00a0may have worked. Mother Nature Network Fly over Spotted Lake, also called Kliluk Lake, in this video: https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?vwk17aEMZsTE 22. Goats! In trees! Moroccan goats have\u00a0learned to climb trees\u00a0in order to better snack on their tasty Argan fruit. Local farmers like the goats so much (and their Argun-nut-filled poop, which the farmers turn into oil) that they've\u00a0brought more goats\u00a0in to enjoy the buffet. Cuno de Boer\/Flickr 23. Nacreous clouds Usually spotted only near the poles, nacreous clouds form\u00a0very high\u00a0in the atmosphere (twice as high as commercial airplanes fly), where the air is particularly cold and dry. The colorful shine actually comes from the\u00a0setting sun being lower\u00a0in the sky than the clouds, so they reflect sunbeams back toward Earth. Unfortunately, while they're beautiful, nacreous clouds also\u00a0destroy ozone, the compound that protects us from the sun's most dangerous rays. YouTube 24. Green sand beaches This probably isn't what comes to mind when you dream of tropical beaches.\u00a0Papakolea, also known as Green Sand Beach, in Hawaii is one of\u00a0only a couple beaches\u00a0in the world with green sand. The remarkable hue comes from\u00a0olivine rock\u00a0that was formed during eruptions of the\u00a0nearby volcano. Marco Garcia\/AP 25. A starling murmuration, aka a 'black sun' An individual starling\u00a0isn't much to look at. But put hundreds or thousands together and these birds turn into an\u00a0incredible dance\u00a0known officially as a murmuration and nicknamed a "black sun." The flocks can be seen in the US and Europe,\u00a0particularly in England, although the bird's British population is now\u00a0only a third\u00a0of what it was 40 years ago. The flock's complex choreography boils down to\u00a0just a couple simple rules, like follow your neighbor. Pinterest Credits:\u00a0businessinsider.com Share this story on Facebook with your friends.