Orbital View: A Different Kind of Crop Circle

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

This elegant piece of earth art is a simulacrum of the sort of satellite photos we feature all the time:

Benjamin Grant, creator of the brilliant Daily Overview, explains:

A ‘scratch circle’ is a phenomenon that occurs when strong winds bend a stalk of dried dune grass and causes it to pivot around its axis. The result is a perfect circle in the sand. This photograph was taken on the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan of a scratch circle with a diameter of seven inches. Photograph by David Marvin

(See all Orbital Views here)