Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year, the largest international competition for astronomical photographs, annually chooses the best images from the global community of astrophotographers. There are twelve categories – Moon, Sun, galaxies, stars, auroras, among others – and, for each of them, a big winner is selected. The award is organized by the Royal Observatory, which is part of the Royal Museums in Greenwich.
The competition started to exist in 2009, and has since expanded considerably, winning new categories. The overall winner of the competition this year, with the image “Andromeda Galaxy at Arm’s Length?”, Was Nicolas Lefaudeux, from France.
Nicolas and the other winners in each category will receive cash prizes. Below you can see the great champions, including images of the Milky Way, a nebula called California and much more. An exhibition with the winning photos will also be on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, starting October 23.
The Green Lady (The Green Lady)
Although the photographer had the chance to photograph the northern lights many times, he had never seen the famous “green lady” before. On a trip to Norway, she finally appeared to him, and offered him the opportunity to create this stunning image.
Lone Tree under a Scandinavian (Lone Tree under a Scandinavian)
The photographer found this tree while exploring the area around a hotel on a very cold night, with -35ºC, in Finland. Luckily, the fog has disappeared and he can capture this fascinating image of an aurora. Archer spent about an hour taking pictures before his camera started to lock up because of the weather.
The image shows the central region of the California nebula, depicting the energy manifested in the form of waves. The colors are created to form an image close to the true color, but preserving the fine details and depth provided by the narrowband filters.
Liquid Sunshine (Liquid Sunlight)
If we were able to look at the sun very closely, this is how we would see plasma, on a living, moving surface. These super hot cells are about 1,000 km in size and 100 km in thickness.
145 Seconds of Darkness
This image was taken during the total solar eclipse that took place on July 2, 2019, in Chile, a place to which the photographer traveled to see the phenomenon.
Tycho Crater Region with Colors (Tycho crater region with colors)
The crater Tycho is one of the most famous on the Moon, and it was even more curious in this image that combines a session with a black and white camera, to capture the details and sharpness, and a session with a color camera, to show details of the soil. These tones come mainly from metallic oxides in small glass balls. Blue shows a high concentration of titanium oxide and red shows a high concentration of iron oxide.
Partial Lunar Eclipse (Partial Lunar Eclipse)
Here is the partial lunar eclipse of 2019, with a small cloud passing in front. The shadow of the Earth in the upper right corner is very clear in the photo; the orange color is caused by sunlight passing through the atmosphere. This is a high dynamic range image, which means that the darkest and shaded region is exposed correctly.
Andromeda Galaxy at Arm’s Length? (Andromeda Galaxy at arm’s length?)
This view of the Andromeda galaxy seems to be very close, thanks to an illusion of blur created by the defocusing at the edges of the sensor, giving the sensation of proximity to Andromeda.
NGC 3628 with 300,000 Light Year Long Tail (NGC 3628 with 300,000 light-years long tail)
This image is the result of five years of exhibitions made with three telescopes, although most of the exhibition was in 2019. The purpose of assembling this composition is to show its curious tidal tail (flow of stars), the result of a gravitational interaction with another large galaxy in the past. It measures 300,000 light years in length.
Attack on the Large Magellanic Cloud (Attack on the Great Magellanic Cloud)
It is not a real attack, of course. There are four lasers from one of the telescopes at the Paranal observatory pointing to a globular cluster in the Great Magellanic Cloud.
The Prison of Technology (The Prison of Technology)
The highlighted star in the middle of the image is Albireo, and the lines that look like prison bars are the tracks left by the moving satellites during the camera’s exposure.
Observe the Heart (Watch the heart)
The photographer is climbing the Mingantu solar radio telescope, with the M8 and M20 nebulae appearing right next door.
Azure Vapor Tracers
These curious shapes in the sky have been seen atop the fjords in Norway’s Arctic. The photographer did not know what it was until the next day. The colors were created by a rocket experiment at the Andøya Space Center, which dispersed gas trackers to probe winds in Earth’s upper atmosphere.
Space Between US (Space between us)
This image shows the alignment between the Moon and Jupiter that happened on October 31, 2019, including three of Jupiter’s moons.
The Outer Reaches (Reaching out)
Here is Uranus, captured on December 3, 2019 through a telescope and an infrared filter capable of revealing details of clouds on this planet. It’s amazing that Lewis was able to photograph an object as weak as this planet.
Painting the Sky (Painting the Sky)
These are polar stratospheric clouds, something that the photographer had been trying to record for many years and ended up finding by chance. He went to a frozen river to get a better view and started taking pictures. The clouds slowly changed in shape and colors, and the result is this surreal scene.
Desert Magic (Magic Desert)
These pictures of the desert at Wadi Rum were taken during a trip to Jordan, and a star tracking device was used.
Cosmic Inferno (Cosmic Hell)
NGC 3576 is a well-known nebula, but here it appears without any stars and with false colors to represent the elements.
The Dolphin Jumping out of an Ocean of Gas (Dolphin jumping from an ocean of gas)
The Sh2-308 nebula is a gas bubble emitted by the bright blue star in the center of the image as it enters its pre-supernova phase. The red star on the right may also influence the shape of a dolphin.
The Misty Elephant’s Trunk (Misty elephant trunk)
IC 1396 is also known as Elephant’s Trunk, and is surrounded by emission clouds and a blue area of ionized oxygen.
Infrared Saturn (Infrared Saturn)
This curious image of the Milky Way shows about 84 million stars, and has been reworked into a kind of sculpture. The image was taken with the Vista telescope from ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile and contains about 9 billion pixels
The Four Planets and the Moon (The Four Planets and the Moon)
Another planetary alignment, something always interesting to see. This time, we see the Moon, Venus, Mercury, the star Antares, Jupiter and Saturn over the Indian Ocean, as well as the Alpha Centaur on the left, and the Milky Way.
Detached Prominences (Prominent prominences)
This is the Sun. It was photographed from London in September 2019, and two different images form this composition. One captured the solar prominences and the other the solar disk.
Source: The Guardian