2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Guiding Light to the Stars
The Royal Observatory Greenwich has announced the winning entries for this year's Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. The overall Winner is Mark Gee for his entry "Guiding Light to the Stars". The skies of the Southern Hemisphere offer a rich variety of astronomical highlights. The central regions of the Milky Way Galaxy, 26,000 light years away, appear as a tangle of dust and stars in the central part of the image. Two even more distant objects are visible as smudges of light in the upper left of the picture - the Magellanic Clouds, two small satellite galaxies in orbit around the Milky Way.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Green Energy
An exhibition of the winning entries is available to view for free at the Royal Observatory Greenwich until 23 February 2014. Runner Up: Fredrik Broms: "Green Energy". The shifting lights of the Aurora Borealis can take on many shapes and forms as they are moulded by the Earth’s complex magnetic field. Sheets and planes of glowing gas appear to be twisted into a giant vortex above Grøtfjord in Norway.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Snowy Range Perseid Meteor Shower
Highly Commended: David Kingham: "Snowy Range Perseid Meteor Shower". A great deal of careful planning, a long night of photography and hours of painstaking image processing have gone into creating this startling composite image of the Perseid meteor shower. The Perseid meteors get their name from the constellation of Perseus from where they appear to come. However, even at the peak of the shower it is impossible to predict exactly when or where the next meteor will appear. The photographer has combined 23 individual stills to convey the excitement and dynamism of this natural firework display.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - A Quadruple Lunar Halo
Highly Commended: Dani Caxete: "A Quadruple Lunar Halo". All of the light which reaches the ground from space must first travel through the Earth’s atmosphere. During its journey the light can be altered by all sorts of atmospheric phenomena. Tiny ice crystals high above the ground refract the moonlight diverting it into a number of beautiful haloes.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Icy Visitor
Highly Commended: Fredrik Broms: "Icy Visitor". Like the snowy mountains in the foreground, the nucleus of Comet Panstarrs is composed largely of ice and rock. The nucleus itself is just a few kilometres across but as it neared the Sun in early 2013, ice evaporating from the surface formed a tail of gas and dust hundreds of thousands of kilometres long.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - The Trapezium Cluster and Surrounding Nebulae
Winner: Robotic Scope: László Francsics: "The Trapezium Cluster and Surrounding Nebulae". The great Orion Nebula is often described as a ‘stellar nursery’ because of the huge number of stars which are being created within its clouds of dust and glowing gas. As dense clumps of gas collapse under their own gravity any remaining debris settles into a dark disc surrounding each newly-formed star. One of these ‘protoplanetary discs’ can be seen silhouetted against the bright background of glowing gas in the central star cluster of this image.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Moon Silhouettes
Winner: People and Space: Mark Gee: "Moon Silhouettes". This is a deceptively simple shot of figures silhouetted against a rising Moon. By photographing the people on the observation deck from a great distance, the photographer has emphasised their tiny scale compared to the grandeur of our natural satellite. Close to the horizon, Earth’s turbulent atmosphere blurs and softens the Moon’s outline and filters its normal cool grey tones into a warmer, yellow glow.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Hi
Runner Up: People and Space: Ben Canales: "Hi". Appearing like a column of smoke rising from the horizon, a dark lane of dust marks the plane of the Milky Way in this photograph. This dust plays a vital role in the life story of our galaxy. Formed from the ashes of dead and dying stars, the dust clouds are also the regions in which new stars will form.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Celestial Impasto
Winner: Deep Space: Adam Block: "Celestial Impasto: Sh2 - 239". Structures like this often seem unchanging and timeless on the scale of a human lifetime. However, they are fleeting and transient on astronomical timescales. Over just a few thousand years the fierce radiation from the stars in this nebula will erode the surrounding clouds of dust and gas, radically altering its appearance.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Ring of Fire Sequence
Highly Commended: Our Solar System: Jia Hao: "Ring of Fire Sequence". The Moon’s orbit about the Earth is not perfectly circular, so that at different times the Moon can be slightly closer or further away than usual. If the Moon passes in front of the Sun when it is at its furthest point, it will appear to be too small to entirely cover the solar disc. This is an ‘annular eclipse’ in which a ring, or annulus, of the Sun remains visible. This composite shot shows the progress of an annular eclipse in May 2013. Close to the horizon the distorting effects of Earth’s atmosphere can also be seen.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Venus Transit, Foxhunter's Grave, Welsh Highlands
Winner: The Sir Patrick Moore prize for Best Newcomer: Sam Cornwell: "Venus Transit, Foxhunter’s Grave, Welsh Highlands". For those lucky enough to see it, the transit of Venus was one of the astronomical highlights of 2012. As the Planet took just six hours to cross the face of the Sun, cloudy weather was a potential disaster for observers – the next transit will not take place until 2117. Here, the final moments of the transit are revealed by a chance gap in the clouds, allowing the photographer to capture the picture of a lifetime.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Corona Composite of 2012 Australian Totality
Winner: Our Solar System: Man-To Hui: "Corona Composite of 2012: Australian Totality". This image is a demonstration of both precision timing and rigorous post-processing. It gives the viewer a window onto the elusive outer atmosphere of the Sun – the corona. A natural dimming of the Sun’s blinding brightness, courtesy of the Moon, reveals the ghostly glow of gas that has a temperature of one million degrees Celsius. For centuries total solar eclipses were the only way to study this hidden treasure of the Sun.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - The Milky Way Galaxy
Winner: Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Jacob Marchio (aged 14): "The Milky Way Galaxy". This young astrophotographer has focused on one of the most spectacular vistas looking towards the very centre of the galaxy, capturing the glow of tens of billions of stars painting streaks of light across the sky. Dark lanes of interstellar dust and gas are seen in silhouette against the brilliance of the Milky Way’s dense bulge, while myriad clusters and star nurseries are sprinkled across the scene.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - The Windows District
Highly Commended: Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Eric Dewar (aged 15): "The Windows District". By keeping the camera shutter open this young photographer gathers precious light, making the desert scenery seem as bright as day. But the stars in the blue sky give the game away, showing that this dramatic photograph was actually taken in the middle of the night.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Saturn at Opposition
Highly Commended: Our Solar System: Damian Peach: "Saturn at Opposition System". This incredibly sharp portrait brilliantly captures the jewel of our solar system, revealing the subtle banding around the orb that results from the planet’s weather. It also shows the exquisite gradation of brightness and colour in the planet’s rings. The ultra-faint inner ‘D-Ring’ and outermost Encke gap are clearly visible. The hexagonal storm at the North Pole – a scientific curiosity – shows off three of its angular kinks.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Rho Ophiuchi and Antares Nebulae
Runner Up: Deep Space: Tom O’Donoghue: "Rho Ophiuchi and Antares Nebulae".
The smoky appearance of the dust clouds in this image is fitting, since the grains of dust which make up the nebula are similar in size to particles of smoke here on Earth. The dust can reflect the light of nearby stars, as seen in the blue and yellow regions. It can also block and absorb the light of more distant stars, appearing brown and black in this image. To the right a bright star is ionizing a cloud of hydrogen gas, causing it to glow red, while below it far in the distance, is a globular cluster containing thousands of stars.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Receiving the Galatic Beam
Shortlisted: Wayne England: "Receiving the Galactic Beam", captures the moment when the Milky Way appears to line up with the giant 64m dish of the radio telescope at Parkes Observatory in Australia.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - The Waxing Crescent Moon
Highly Commended: Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Jacob Marchio (aged 14): "The Waxing Crescent Moon". The Moon seems to be emerging from the interplanetary darkness, and the young photographer has captured the contrast been the dark lava-filled lunar ‘seas’ and the mountainous southern highlands.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Magnetic Maelstrom
Runner Up: "Our Solar System": Alan Friedman: "Magnetic Maelstrom". The darkest patches or ‘umbrae’ in this image are each about the size of Earth, with the entire region of magnetic turmoil spanning the diameter of ten Earths. This image captures rich details directly around the sunspots, and further out in the so-called ‘quiet’ Sun where simmering hot plasma rises, cools and falls back. This produces a patchwork surface like a pot of boiling water, but on an epic scale – each bubbling granule is about the size of France.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Goodbye Sun, Hello Moon
Runner Up: Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Ariana Bernal (aged 10): "Goodbye Sun, Hello Moon". The awesome scale presented in this image depicts what as far as we’re concerned, are the three most significant objects in the Universe. The Sun and Moon each play an important role to us on Earth, and both are seen here, reddened by our vital atmosphere, presiding over the horizon. The third object is the Earth itself, and here its land, sea and sky meet around an amazing human megastructure, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Floating Metropolis
Highly Commended: Deep Space: Michael Sidonio: "Floating Metropolis – NGC 253". First discovered by astronomer Caroline Herschel in 1783, NGC 253 is a rare example of a ‘starburst galaxy’ with new stars being formed at many times the rate in our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Its mottled appearance comes from extensive lanes of dust which thread through the galactic disk. These are studded with many red clouds of ionized hydrogen gas, marking the sites where new stars are being born.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - A Flawless Point
Shortlisted: "A Flawless Point" - The Milky Way arches over Yosemite Valley in California’s famous national park. A lens-shaped (lenticular) cloud hovers over the distinct granite dome of Liberty Cap, which rises to an elevation of over 2000m, near the centre of the photograph.
Rogelio Bernal Andreo
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - The Great Nebula
Highly Commended: Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Samuel Copley (aged 15): "The Great Nebula". The Great Nebula, also referred to as The Orion Nebula and M42 is found in the well-known constellation of Orion, just below the hunter’s belt. To the naked eye the nebula looks like another star in Orion’s sword. However, this skilful young photographer has shown there is more to it than meets the eye by producing this beautiful image that not only shows the stunning formation of this popularly observed nebula but also its diffuse nature.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Comet Panstarrs
Shortlisted: "Comet Panstarrs" - Although a line of burnt orange along the horizon marks where sunset has already occurred, most of the light in this image still comes ultimately from the sun. High in the sky the bright disc of the moon is shining with reflected sunlight, while a tiny smudge above the sea is sunlight reflecting from the dust and gas in the tail of Comet Panstarrs. Only the stars shine with their own light.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Omega Centauri
Highly Commended: Deep Space: Ignacio Diaz Bobillo: "Omega Centauri". Omega Centauri is a globular cluster, a spherical cloud containing several million stars. As this image shows, the stars are more densely clustered towards the centre. The pronounced red colour of several of the stars gives away the cluster’s great age: it is thought to have been formed billions of years ago. The cluster was first noted by the astronomer Ptolemy almost 2000 years ago and catalogued by Astronomer Royal Edmond Halley in 1677.
Ignacio Diaz Bobillo
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - The Night Photographer
Shortlisted: "The Night Photographer" - This image captures the dedication of the committed astrophotographer: camping out in a remote location and spending hours waiting for the perfect shot of the night sky. Here, the photographer’s patience has been rewarded with the sight of a bright meteor streaking across the sky as it burns up high in the Earth’s atmosphere.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Photographers on the Myvatn Craters
Shortlisted: "Photographers on the Rim of Myvatn Craters" - The scale and majesty of astronomical and atmospheric phenomena are clearly shown in this dramatic scene. Although auroral displays have become more common, as the sun nears the peak of its eleven-year cycle of activity in 2013, these hilltop observers were still lucky to witness such a spectacular example.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Venus Transit at the Black Sea
Shortlisted: "Venus Transit at the Black Sea" - Transits of Venus are rare events, occurring in pairs eight years apart, with each pair separated by more than a century. But the transits themselves are brief, as Venus only takes around six hours to cross the disc of the sun. In 2012 the transit was already well under way as the sun rose over Europe. This gave the continent’s astronomers a brief window of opportunity to capture the black dot of Venus silhouetted in front of the sun.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Integrated Flux Nebula
Highly Commended: Deep Space: Ivan Eder: "M81 – 82 and Integrated Flux Nebula". Lying at a distance of twelve million light years from Earth, M81 and M82 are galaxies with a difference. Close encounters between the two objects have forced gas down into their central regions. In M81 this influx of gas is being devoured by a supermassive black hole. In neighbouring M82 the gas is fuelling a burst of new star formation which in turn is blasting clouds of hydrogen (shown in red) back out into space.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Northern Lights
Shortlisted: "Northern Lights XXIII" - A vast sweep of shimmering auroral light appears to mirror the shape of the frozen shoreline in this shot which requires great skill to capture all of the different sources of light – the stars, the aurora and the streetlights of the distant towns.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Leaning In
Shortlisted: "Leaning In" - Familiar stars and constellations form a line rising up behind this windswept tree in Dartmoor National Park, England. Just above the horizon is Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, followed by the unmistakable outline of Orion the Hunter. Above this lies the triangular face of Taurus the Bull with the orange star Aldebaran, the disc of the moon and the bright, compact cluster of the Pleiades.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Cosmic Alignment Coment Lemmon
Highly Commended: Our Solar System: Ignacio Diaz Bobillo: "Cosmic Alignment Comet Lemmon, GC 47 Tucanae, and the SMC". At a glance, this image may seem like a post-processed montage of objects from three separate images. However the truth is that they were all captured together providing the viewer with an amazing view of the Solar System, galaxy and Universe. Comet Lemmon only comes into our neighbourhood every 11,000 years, racing around our Sun and back out to the far reaches of the Solar System.
Ignacio Diaz Bobillo
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Hunters Moon
Shortlisted: "Hunter’s Moon over the Alps" - As the full moon sinks in the west, the sun rises in the east, lighting up the snow-capped Alpine horizon.
Stefano De Rosa
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Orion Nebula
Shortlisted: "Orion Nebula" - Modern cameras can detect light which is too faint for our eyes to see and are able to distinguish levels of detail which are well beyond our own capabilities. Here, the photographer has chosen an unusually subdued palette of colours to represent the Orion Nebula, replacing the familiar riot of reds and magentas with subtle greys and salmon pinks.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Archway to Heaven
Shortlisted: "Archway to Heaven" - The natural rock archway of Durdle Door dramatically frames the distant band of our Milky Way in this carefully composed shot. The spectacular rock formations in this part of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast are more than 100 million years old. However, many of the stars that make up the Milky Way are far older, at up to ten billion years old.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Objects in the Pelica Nebula
Shortlisted: "Herbig-Haro Objects in the Pelican Nebula" - The birth of new stars is a complex process which astronomers are still trying to understand in detail. One fascinating aspect of stellar formation is the production of jets of material which blast out from the poles of some new-born stars. Here, these jets, or ‘Herbig-Haro objects’, can be seen emerging from the thick dust and gas clouds of the Pelican Nebula, a stellar nursery in the constellation of Cygnus.
Andre van der Hoeven
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Solar Max
Shortlisted: "Solar Max" - This full disc image of the sun is a visual feast, with dark filaments rising up from the surface.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year- Full view of Noctilucent Cloud
Shortlisted: "Full-view of Noctilucent Cloud" - Noctilucent clouds are formed of tiny ice crystals high in the atmosphere, around 80km above the ground. Their name means ‘night shining’ in Latin and they only become visible during deep twilight conditions. This is because they are not competing with the blue daytime sky and the more substantial clouds at lower altitudes. Here, despite the urban lights, they put on a spectacular display above the Pennine Hills of northern England.
2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Eta Carinae and her Keyhole
Shortlisted: "Eta Carinae and her Keyhole" - The Carina Nebula is a chaotic region of star formation several thousand light years from Earth. In the central part of the nebula, shown here, dense clouds of gas and dust are lit up by the light of newly born stars. One of these is a true giant – the star Eta Carinae right at the centre of this image. More than a hundred times as massive as the sun, and millions of times brighter, Eta Carinae is unstable and will one day explode as a supernova.