The winners of the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 have been announced at the Royal Observatory, and the judges had quite the challenge in picking between the thousands of spectacular photographs entered in the competition from around the world.
The overall winner is an incredible eclipse of the Sun picture by Chinese astrophotographer Yu Jun, shown above, which shows the so-called Baily’s Beads. This is an effect where the rugged surface of the Moon lets some beads of sunlight through during the eclipse. Jun composed the winning piece by stacking up several images of the total eclipse that occurred on March 9, 2016 in Luwuck, Indonesia.
“This is such a visually striking image, with its succession of fiery arcs all perfectly balanced around the pitch black circle of totality,” said competition judge and Royal Observatory Public Astronomer Dr Marek Kukula in a statement.
“It’s even more impressive when you realize what it shows: the progress of a solar eclipse, all compressed into a single frame with consummate skill and precision. A tremendous achievement that pushes the boundaries of what modern astrophotography can achieve.”
Yun’s picture is in great company. Among the winners, in the category Skyscape, we find the "Binary Haze" by UK photographer Ainsley Bennet who captured a countryside scene where the mist amplifies the brightness of Venus and the crescent Moon.
Binary Haze by Ainsley Bennet. Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016/National Maritime Museum
In the category People and Space, the winner was Wing Ka Ho, from Hong Kong, with "City Lights". This is a great picture of star-trails among skyscrapers, which shows that you can engage in astronomy even in a light-polluted metropolis.
In the same category, there was “A Wise Son Makes a Glad Father,” where a Maasai warrior teaches astronomy to his son. The picture, shot by Robin Stuart from Kenya, was highly commended by the judging panel.
City Lights by Wing Ka Ho. Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016/National Maritime Museum
A Wise Son Makes a Glad Father by Robin Stuart. Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016/National Maritime Museum
The winner of Stars & Nebula is British photographer Steve Brown with “The Rainbow Star”, a pop-art inspired composition of video frames of Sirius, which has the interesting habit of flashing with hues of different colors due to interference in the atmosphere.
“There were so many fantastic images this year,” said BBC Sky at Night Magazine’s Editor Chris Bramley, who was a judge for the competition, in the statement.
“The winning entries, and indeed the whole field, show that the entrants' technical abilities and creative eye have never been sharper. They capture the quiet, majestic beauty of the night sky above a world that’s increasingly frenetic and light-polluted.”
The Rainbow Star by Steve Brown. Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016/National Maritime Museum
Another image worth mentioning is "Lunar Reversal" by Brendan Devine, who won the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016. The Chicago teenager took a great picture of the Moon and then reversed it, producing a unique view of our satellite that highlights several features we often miss in traditional photos.
Lunar Reversal by Brendan Devine. Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016/National Maritime Museum
An exhibition with all the photos will take place within the Royal Observatory in Greenwich from September 17, 2016 to June 28, 2017. More information is available on the Astronomy Photographer competition website.