Astronomy Photographer of the Year Awards

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Last night Rita, Stuart and I went to the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2010 awards ceremony at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. We got invited because of the Astronomer’s Galleries that we all curated using some of the entrants to the competition. It was a lovely evening: we got to eat some lovely (tiny) canapes, drink something peculiar which tasted a lot like roses, but also a bit like soap (it was nice, really), see a mini planetarium show featuring all the shortlisted pictures and, most importantly, find out the winners…..

Overall Winner (& winner of the Earth & Space category)

This beautiful shot of the Milky Way paralleled by an ancient tree trunk is called ‘Blazing Bristlecone’ by Tom Lowe from the USA. It’s a well deserved winner and I particularly like the way the tree is picked out by the artificial lighting, though this was apparently an accidental addition!

Winner: Deep Space

This amazing picture taken by Rogelio Bernal Andreo, shows the region around Orion’s belt (the three stars that make up the belt itself are the bright objects in a diagonal line on the left). We spent ages gazing at this in the exhibition. The level of detail is immense. Look at the middle belt star for instance – it’s not surrounded by any of the dust and gas because its generating a stellar wind which has blown it all away. We all agreed that we’d never seen such a large image of this area, showing all the tumultuous clouds within which new stars are being born. However, to me it looks like there’s a tiny, hunched, figure in the centre hiking his way across this cosmic landscape.

Winner: Our Solar System

This eclipse photo is ‘Siberian Totality’ by Anthony Ayiomamitis. I had to go and have a closer look at this in the exhibition afterwards – there’s so much structure visible in the solar corona.

In addition to the individual categories there were also three special ones:

Winner: Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year
(restricted to photographers aged under 16)

It’s easy, on first seeing this picture of an annular eclipse in India taken by 14 year old Arvind Paranjpye, to mistakenly think that the ring in the centre has been superimposed as it’s such a perfect circle.

I couldn’t resist including the runner-up photo from this category too:

The most impressive bit about this photo isn’t the lovely solar halo but the fact that the photographer, 13 year old Laurent V. Joli-Coeur from Canada, took it from the window of his mother’s car as they were driving down the highway!

Winner: People & Space
(has to include people in a creative and original way)

The Sun only directly shines through this arch on the Californian coast for a few days each year and Steven Christenson was there to capture all the other people trying to capture the moment. We looked at this photo for a long time too because of the beautiful shapes made by the waves, rocks and sunlight. We also wondered how the photos taken by the people on the beach had turned out!

Winner: Best Newcomer
(for people who’ve only been taking astrophotographs for a year or less)

The photo of the Whirlpool Galaxy by Ken Mackintosh shows the quality of the results that can be achieved by a relative beginner. In that respect it’s probably the most inspiring photo in the whole collection.

These winning photos, along with the runner-up and highly commended ones in each category are all now on display at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and will be so until the end of February. The exhibition is well worth a visit – there’s also videos featuring some of the photographers describing their work, as well as an interactive display featuring all the entries received. There’s also an excellent audio slideshow on the BBC news webpage.

If I was asked to pick a favorite I think I’d have to go for the overall winner, but the People & Space one would be a close second (and I’d have to give an honorable mention to the deep space Orion wide field shot, which Rita and Stuart both picked as their favorite one). What’s yours?

The Universe according to now

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Following on the footsteps of giants, it was my turn this month to spend an evening looking through entries for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition run by the Royal Observatory Greenwhich and creating my own gallery.

It was a joy, thanks to all who made me smile! Endlessly.

My Astronomer’s Gallery – A June Journey

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This month it’s my turn to guest curate an Astronomer’s Gallery for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich. You can find my gallery here and in a blatant attempt to interest you all enough to go and have a look there’s a taster Milky Way photo from it below!

I’d also recommend checking out the great galleries for April and May chosen by Amanda who blogs over at astropixie and Stuart who blogs right here.