Year in pictures: The eclipse, Bertha’s breakthrough, Bill Gates plays tennis, Amazon’s growth and more

Space Needle
Scaffolding surrounds the top house of the Space Needle from a hanging platform that is allowing workers to perform a remodel on the iconic Seattle structure. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

When it comes to the geeky stuff we cover, there’s no shortage of cutting-edge technology or fun and talented personalities. In 2017, GeekWire again chased down a wide range of interesting stories — and the images to go along with them.

While one story may have literally eclipsed all others in the science and space department, there were plenty of other compelling tech-related moments in Seattle and beyond.

Check out some of the people we met and interviewed, the stuff we saw being built, the games being played, the events taking place and more in our roundup of the year’s best pictures.

Solar eclipse

The total solar eclipse in August had everyone turning their heads — with protected eyes, hopefully — to the sky. GeekWire aerospace and science editor Alan Boyle traveled down to Madras, Ore., and contributor Kevin Lisota went to Bald Mountain, Idaho, to be in the path of totality.

In Seattle, people gathered in parks, outside office buildings and on street corners to catch a glimpse of the rare spectacle.

The sun’s magnetic field lines can be seen in the patterns of the corona during a total solar eclipse. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
A close-up of the solar eclipse progression from the summit of Bald Mountain at the Sun Valley ski resort in Idaho. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
A dog takes in the eclipse from Seattle’s Kerry Park. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)
A woman uses a cereal box to view the eclipse at Seattle’s Kerry Park. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Tech personalities

GeekWire sat down with some of the biggest names in technology this year, whether it was one-on-one or in front of a crowd at one of our events such as the GeekWire Summit, the Cloud Tech Summit or the Sports Tech Summit. We also caught various folks sharing their insight at a variety of engagements in Seattle and elsewhere.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates discusses the 2017 Gates Foundation Annual Letter. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates speaks at the University of Washington, where she and her husband, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, were honored at a celebration for the UW’s new computer science building. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Brad Stone
Brad Stone, author of “The Upstarts,” right, speaking at Town Hall in Seattle with GeekWire’s Todd Bishop. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
In a year when the role of women in tech was in the spotlight, we featured three women investors — Rebecca Lynn of Canvas Ventures, Sarah Tavel of Benchmark, Julie Sandler of Pioneer Square Labs — on our VC panel at the GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong) Watch the video.
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer discusses USA Facts with GeekWire. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Geekwire’s Monica Nickelsburg interviews Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who took on the Trump administration over its travel restrictions — with the backing of major Seattle-area tech companies. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.

Seattle tunnel

Bertha the giant tunneling machine finally finished her work cutting a 2-mile tube beneath the city, emerging in a cloud of dust near the Space Needle on April 4. Crews continue to build the double-decker portion of SR 99 that will run through the tunnel, and GeekWire went deep more than once for a look at the engineering and transportation marvel, set to open to traffic in 2019.

Tunnel workers peek out from boring machine cutterhead after Bertha completed her journey. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The cutterhead is visible in the receiving pit where Bertha the Seattle tunneling machine ended her years-long run. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Seattle tunnel
GeekWire reporter Kurt Schlosser checks out the construction of the new highway inside the tunnel deep beneath Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.

Sports tech

Professional athletes and plain old wannabes took their best shots in 2017. GeekWire reporter Taylor Soper tracked a few stars and startups down to get the latest take on the intersection between sports and tech.

Sue Bird
Seattle Storm star Sue Bird takes part in a discussion at the GeekWire Sports Tech Summit at CenturyLink Field. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
GeekWire’s Taylor Soper plays TopGolf Crush at Safeco Field in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
GeekWire’s Taylor Soper interviews former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Gates tennis
Roger Federer and Bill Gates celebrate during their doubles match against John Isner and Mike McCready at Key Arena in Seattle at the Match for Africa, which supports the Roger Federer Foundation. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Paul Allen
Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen is honored by the team at CenturyLink Field 20 years after he kept the NFL franchise from leaving. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
GeekWire’s John Cook talks video games with Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)


While the first plant was going in the ground at the unique Spheres on the tech giant’s downtown Seattle campus, another crane was likely going into the sky to build out the company’s ever-expanding South Lake Union presence. Meanwhile, Whole Foods came into the fold in a $13.7 billion acquisition and Amazon HQ2 plans stirred expansion buzz in hopeful cities across North America.

Amazon Spheres
John Schoettler, Amazon’s VP of global real estate and facilities, addresses folks inside The Spheres in May after an Australian tree fern became the first planting in the glass orbs. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Whole Foods
Amazon’s newly acquired Whole Foods Market in South Lake Union. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Seattle chalk artist John Rozich drew this map of the 238 regions to respond to Amazon’s HQ2 RFP. The mural is located in Amazon’s Day 1 tower. (Amazon Photo / Jordan Stead) Read the story.
Seattle cranes
Cranes dot the neighborhood around Amazon’s South Lake Union campus, with its Doppler and Day 1 towers and Spheres visible at top right. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.

Bezos and Blue Origin

His day job as Amazon may keep him busy most of the time, but Jeff Bezos found plenty of opportunities to wow us with his other venture, Blue Origin, and the pursuit of space travel for ordinary people.

Jeff Bezos inside Blue Origin crew capsule mock-up at Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Jeff Bezos talks with students at the opening of the Apollo Exhibit at The Museum of Flight in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.

Also on stage

Don’t forget Starbucks and Microsoft and Redfin and more Seattle-area companies and their leaders making big news in 2017. The coffee giant saw its longtime chief step aside; Microsoft’s CEO promoted a new book and headlined the GeekWire Summit; Redfin had its IPO; and GeekWire embraced the cloud with a summit for that dominant tech arena.

Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz, left, passes a key to the company’s original Seattle cafe to incoming CEO Kevin Johnson in March. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaking with GeekWire Editor Todd Bishop at the 2017 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong) Read the story.
Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman rings the NASDAQ opening bell with members of the team after the Seattle real estate tech company went public. (NASDAQ Photo) Read the story.
Scott Guthrie
Microsoft Azure chief Scott Guthrie at the first-ever GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit in June. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.

More fun stuff

The people we met didn’t have to run giant tech companies. Some of them ran elevators or opened restaurants and coffee shops. Others hopped on a tandem bike and rode across the country. Another built a replica of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley in his driveway.

Diagon Alley
Jon Chambers and his family pose in the driveway of their Ballard neighborhood home where the tech worker built a Harry Potter set for Halloween. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Tandem bike
John Carpenter dips his tandem bike’s rear wheel in the water at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle as Olivia waves an American flag before the start of their journey to the East Coast. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
The Shop
The Shop founder Matt Bell sits on the back of Derby restauranteur Ethan Stowell’s scooter in Seattle at the new hangout for car enthusiasts. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Smith Tower elevators
Hamilton Beale has operated an elevator at Smith Tower since 1999. He’s leaving Seattle and moving back to the East Coast after automation takes over his job. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Cirque du Soleil
A Cirque du Soleil “Luzia” performer in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
Bulletproof Cafe
Dave Asprey raises his sword after using it to cut the ribbon on his new Bulletproof Cafe in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Snap Spectacles fans don the camera glasses after the company’s vending machine showed up at a Dick’s restaurant in Seattle in February. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Comic Con
Our own Captain GeekWire got into the spirit of Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.