2014 Winners Announced for Astronomy Photographer of the Year Awards

Thursday, 18 September 2014 - 12:49PM
Astronomy
Space Imagery
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Thursday, 18 September 2014 - 12:49PM
2014 Winners Announced for Astronomy Photographer of the Year Awards

The winners of the annual contest for astronomy photography, held by the Royal Observatory, have been announced. They received a record 1,700 submissions from more than 50 countries, and chose winners in several categories including Earth and Space, Our Solar System, Deep Space, Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year, and People and Space. The overall winner was chosen from the winners of all the the categories:

 

Overall Winner

Earth & Space Winner: Aurora over a Glacier Lagoon by James Woodend, UK

[Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich]

 

The museum described the photo as follows: "The pale-green glow of the aurora comes from oxygen atoms high in the atmosphere, energized by subatomic particles blasted out by the Sun. The particles are funnelled down towards the north and south poles by the Earth's magnetic field, which is why these spectacular light shows are so often juxtaposed with the frozen scenery of the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Here the photographer has skilfully captured the delicate, icy colouration of land, water and sky."

 

Runner up: Wind Farm Star Trails by Matt James, Australia

[Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich]

 

The photograph shows "a monochrome composition with striking graphic qualities, this is a picture of movement. It shows the power of the wind together with the apparent motion of the sky: the rotation of the Earth turns the trails into a shower of stars. Like a moment of stillness captured in the otherwise shifting surroundings, one of the wind turbines has remained static. Its sharply defined blades stand out among the dandelion-like shapes of the others."

 

Our Solar System Winner: Ripples in a Pond by Alexandra Hart, UK

[Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich]

 

The photographer said of the picture: "Every moment I see the Sun through the telescope a new scene takes my breath away. This day the view was exceptional, with a beautiful filament extending over the limb like a thin veil, together with the massive active region AR11974. The active region resembled the imprint created when stones hit the surface of a pond, with the magnetic filaments as the ripples."

 

Highly Commended: Diamond and Rubies by Tunç Tezel, Turkey

[Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich]

 

The photographer said, "From our location at Pajengo village there was a lingering diamond ring before the beginning of the totality. There was also a thin layer of cloud, which diffused the lights of the diamond and red ring of chromosphere around the Moon."

 

Deep Space Winner: Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) by Bill Snyder, USA

[Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich]

 

This picture shows the Horsehead Nebula, which is "one of the most-photographed objects in the night sky, but this astonishing image succeeds in showing it in a brand-new light. Rather than focusing solely on the black silhouette of the horsehead itself, the photographer draws the eye down to the creased and folded landscape of gas and dust at its base, and across to the glowing cavity surrounding a bright star." A judge stated, "This region is often lost in darkness in most astrophotos but Bill's image reveals the billowing, almost fluffy, texture of the gas and dust there superbly."

 

Runner Up: The Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) by David Fitz-Henry, Australia

[Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich]

 

The photographer said, "The Helix Nebula is a planetary nebula formed at the end of a star's evolution. Gases from the star in the surrounding space appear, from our vantage point, as if we are looking down a helix structure. The remnant central stellar core, known as a planetary nebula nucleus, is destined to become a white dwarf star. The observed glow of the central star is so energetic that it causes the previously expelled gases to fluoresce brightly." The photo "reveals delicate detail in the glowing gas that makes up the nebula, including the tadpole-like 'cometary knots' which seem to trail from the inner edge of the gaseous ring. The 'head' of each knot is around the size of our solar system."

 

Highly Commended: Veil Nebula Detail (IC 1340) by J-P Metsävanio, Finland

[Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich]

 

The photo shows the Veil Nebula, which is a supernova remnant. "The angular shapes and garish colour palette help to convey the violent origins of this gaseous structure, part of the debris of an exploding star, which detonated over 5000 years ago. The glowing relic is still expanding, and the entire nebula now covers an area of the sky about 36 times larger than the full Moon."

 

Young Astronomer Photographer of the Year (under 16) Winner: The Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) by Shishir and Shashank Dholakia, USA, Aged 15

[Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich]

 

Another image of the Horsehead Nebula, the image "shows clearly the well-known red glow that appears to come from behind the horsehead. This glow is produced by hydrogen gas that has been ionized by neighbouring stars. The image draws particular attention to the cloud of heavily concentrated dust within the horse's head. This is silhouetted against the red glow because it blocks so much of the light that is trying to get through."

 

Runner Up: New Year over Cypress Mountain by Emmett Sparling, Canada, Aged 15

[Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich]

 

The photographer said, "On New Year's Eve 2013, my little brother and I climbed on to our friend's roof on Bowen Island in order to get a clear view across Howe Sound. It was a new moon that night so there was almost no extra lunar light pollution. This long exposure was taken at midnight, as 2013 changed to 2014. One year finishing, another beginning."

 

Highly Commended: Moon Behind the Trees by Emily Jeremy, UK, Aged 12

[Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich]

 

The photographer stated, "One night I was gazing out at the stars when I noticed how beautiful and radiant the Moon was looking. I live in urban north-west England so it is not often you get such a spectacular view of it." The museum said of the photo, "Earth's nature and its satellite seem to have merged into one another in this picture... This photographer uses the Moon as a backdrop to frame her subject. The simple yet effective silhouetted effect recalls early glass plates of the Moon, or camera-less photography, in which shadows are fixed on light-sensitive surfaces."

 

Highly Commended: The Heart Nebula (IC 1805) by Shishir and Shashank Dholakia, USA, Aged 15

[Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich]

 

The photographer said, "The Heart Nebula is an emission nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia that takes the curious and distinctive shape of a heart. The nebula is 7500 light years away from Earth. The beautiful open cluster, Melotte 15, at the Heart's centre, illuminates the nebula."

 

People and Space Winner: Hybrid Solar Eclipse 2 by Eugen Kamenew, Germany

[Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich]

 

The photographer said, "Geoffrey Lowa was a friend I never met in person. He was planning to be my host, driver, tour guide and, last but not least, my photographic model for a hybrid solar eclipse in North Kenya on 3 November 2013. On 8 October he sent me his last message via Facebook, excited at the prospect of our trip. Sadly he was killed just one week before I arrived. This photograph is my tribute to Geoffrey."

 

Runner Up: Lost Souls by Julie Fletcher, Australia

[Credit: Royal Museums Greenwich]

 

The museum said of the image, "The zodiacal light seems to rise from the horizon like a pyramid, with the brilliant point of Venus at its apex. Made up of sunlight scattered and diffused by the tiny grains of dust that drift between the planets, this pale feature marks out the plane of the Solar System, the flat disc in which all of the planets orbit the Sun. The stillness of the heavens contrasts with the transience of the scene below, its shifting human figures reflected in the temporary waters of Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre."

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