17 September 2010

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2010

American Tom Lowe has beaten hundreds of amateur and professional photographers from around the globe to win the title of Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2010. As well as securing the £1000 top prize, his image takes pride of place in the exhibition of winning photographs opening at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich (ROG) on 10th September 2010.

Lowe’s winning shot, Blazing Bristlecone, depicts the star-riddled Milky Way arching over an ancient bristlecone pine tree, thought to be one of the oldest living trees in the world having clocked up over 4,000 years standing sentry over the Sierra Nevada.

Earth & space runner-up: The Whisper of the Wind by Dave Brosha. Display of the Aurora Borealis taken in Kellowknife, Northwest territories, Canada 3 April 2010. The light display is caused when charged particles from the Sun interact with the Earth?s magnetic field

Earth & space highly commended: Surrounded by Space by Fredrik Broms. Boreal Forest, Kvaløya, Northern Norway, 22 October 2009. Taken from the forest floor the Northern Lights are seen between the stars and through the tree tops

Earth & space highly commended: Solstice Full Moon Rising at Sounion by Anthony Ayiomamitis. The rising full moon against the Temple of Poseidon (450-440 BC) in southern Greece on 26 June 2010. Captured in a single exposure, it took the photographer fifteen months to work out the exact time and distance at which to get the shot. The light balance required lasts for less than five minutes

Earth & space highly commended: Primal Wonder by Larry Andreasen. A view of a controlled forest fire on Mount Adams, Washington, Yakima Nations land

Deep space winner: Orion Deep Wide Field by Rogelio Bernal Andreo, California, USA, 10 June 2010. A panorama of a section of the constellation of Orion, including the 3 famous stars of the belt, the Horsehead Nebula and the Orion Nebula

Deep space runner up: The Veil Nebula in Cygnus by Martin Pugh. The Veil Nebula is the remnant of a supernova explosion that occurred thousands of years ago. At the time of the explosion the expanding cloud of gas was probably as bright as a crescent Moon and would have been visible from Earth

Deep space highly commended: The Sword and The Rose (Orion's Sword and M42) by Marcus Davies. 10 January 2010. Lying just south of the three stars that form Orion's belt, Orion's sword contains the Great Orion Nebula. This hotbed of star formation lies about 1350 light years away, making it the brightest and closest star forming region to Earth

Deep space highly commended: The Trifid Nebula (M20) by Eddie Trimarchi. Image planned, acquired, captured and processed from the Gold Coast, using the remote telescope at Southern Galactic in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria, Australia. Located in the constellation of Sagittarius, the Trifid Nebula is a stellar nursery - a molecular cloud in which new stars are being formed

Deep space highly commended: The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) by Edward Henry. This image of M31 is a three part mosaic, taken on 14 March 2010, USA. Andromeda is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way. It is composed of hundreds of billions of stars, the light of which takes around two and a half million years to reach Earth

Our solar system winner: Siberian Totality by Anthony Ayiomamitis (Greece). Taken during a total eclipse of the Sun, this image reveals the faint solar corona usually hidden by the photosphere. The long streamers and prominences show the sun's activity beyond the surface, reaching out into the solar system

Our solar system runner-up: Jupiter by Nick Smith. Taken from La Palma, Canary Islands on 15th July 2009. 10 to 15 years ago pictures of this quality were only achievable for those working in Observatories or by using telescopes in space. The elongated black blob above the white dot on the top right of the picture is a cloud of vapour created by a comet or asteroid which collided with Jupiter in the summer of 2009. Due to weather on the planet the smoother light band at Jupiter's Southern hemisphere is not currently visible, so this image shows us Jupiter captured at a particular moment in time

Our solar system highly commended: The Green Visitor by Richard Higby (Australia). Named after the Lulin Observatory in Taiwan where it was discovered, this comet's green colour comes from the gases that make up its Jupiter-sized atmosphere. Comet Lulin's orbit indicates that this image captures it at what was likely the its first trip into the inner Solar System

Our solar system highly commended: Crescent Venus by Lorenzo Comolli. Not a photograph of the Moon, but of the planet Venus seen through a blue evening sky. Venus is the brightest natural thing in our sky apart from the Sun and the Moon, and our closest planetary neighbour. To the naked eye Venus appears as a bright, star-like point but even a small telescope will show it as a round world which goes through crescent phases as it moves around the Sun

Our solar system highly commended: Sinus Iridum by Nick Smith. This detailed section of the Moon was shot from a back garden in Oxford

Young astronomy photographer winner: A Perfect Circle by Dhruv Arvind Paranjpye (India, aged 14). A solar eclipse photographed in India in 2009. The light around the edge of the circle is the sun's atmosphere, or corona, only visible during an eclipse. The photographer has used the dark clouds to act as a filter

Young astronomy photographer runner-up: Solar Halo by Laurent V.Joli-Coeur (Canada, aged 13). Solar halos are created by ice crystals in clouds that refract the incoming sunlight. The photographer was in his family's car when he spotted this one through the roof. His parents were not happy when he opened the window (while the car was moving) to take the picture - his mother was afraid that he would break her camera

Young astronomy photographer highly commended: A Detailed Full Moon by Daniel Mortimer (UK, aged 15). Stitching together a mosaic of photographs to achieve this one image of the moon took the photographer an entire weekend

Young astronomy photographer highly commended: The Pelican Nebula Up Close by Elias Jordan (USA, aged 15). The Pelican Nebula spans about 30 light years and lies towards the constellation of Cygnus about 1800 light years away. Millions of years from now this nebula might no longer be known as the Pelican, as the balance and placement of stars and gas will leave something that appears completely different

Young astronomy photographer highly commended: Half Moon Terminator by Jathin Premjith (India, aged 14). In this photo, the line of sunrise or sunset [terminator] on the Moon reveals some of the important craters like Archimedes, Ptolemaeus, Alphonsus, Arzachel, Albategnius, Purbach, Werner and Walter casting their shadows. Part of the mountain range 'Montes Apenninus' can also be seen clearly

Best newcomer: The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) by Ken Mackintosh (UK). Drawn together by gravity, two galaxies interact. Eventually the smaller galaxy will be torn apart or swallowed by the larger one - a process that will take millions of year

People & space winner: Photon Worshippers by Steve Christenson, 23 December 2009. For a few weeks every year the setting sun is in the correct position to shine directly through this portal in a large rock formation at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, California [refreshingnews9.blogspot.com]

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