The Royal Observatory Greenwich has announced the 12 winners of the Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2019. Touching on the many areas of astrophotography, the winning pictures are, as always, breathtaking and awe-inspiring, telling stories about the sky and our relationship with it. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, and in some of these even more than that.
The overall winner and winner of the "Our Moon" category is Hungarian photographer László Francsics, who takes home the £10,000 (about $12,500) prize money. The winning image is a composite view stitching together 35 phases of the total lunar eclipse that occurred on January 21, 2019.
“The original composition, the quality of the shots themselves, the chromatic and visual impact, all make for a photograph that will catch the viewer's eye and interest,” competition judge Oana Sandu from the European Southern Observatory (ESO), said in an emailed statement.
The competition, sponsored by Insight Investment in association with BBC's Sky at Night Magazine, is now in its 11th year. In 2019, it received an incredible 4,600 entries from over 90 countries and the judges certainly had a tough time picking the most beautiful pictures across the nine different categories and two special prizes.
Each winner receives £1,500 ($1,880) in prize money, with the runners-up receiving £500 ($630) and the highly commended entries getting £250 ($315). The winning entries include an amazing composite progress picture taken by Andy Casely of the global dust storm that enveloped Mars last year and led to the death of NASA's rover Opportunity, and a stunning panorama/self-portrait featuring the Milky Way's core, Mars, Saturn, photographer Ben Bush, and his dog Floyd, which took home the People & Places crown. The Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year goes to 11-year-old Davy van der Hoeven from the Netherlands for a beautiful picture of the Rosette Nebula, 5,000 light-years away. Particularly impacting, Wang Zheng's "Across the Sky of History", starring a meteorite falling behind the withered poplar trees of the Ejina region in Inner Mongolia, won in the Skyscapes category.
“Every year the standard rises, and entrants continue to find creative new ways to express their artistry," judge Tom Kerss, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory, said. "This year’s selection contains so many unique approaches to astrophotography – real love letters to the art form, which stay with you long after you’ve seen them. I’m looking forward to the discussions these images will inspire about our shared sky, and the ever-expanding field of capturing and interpreting it. With such a beautiful collection to talk about, the competition really has become astrophotography’s ‘World Cup’."
You can check out all the winning photographs for each category below. These, plus the runners-up and highly commended shots, will be part of an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, next door to the Royal Observatory Greenwich, in London from September 13, 2019 to April 26, 2020. The photos will also be published in a book available later in the year.
You can see all the winning images below.
Nicolai Brügger (Germany) with The Watcher. View of the Aurora Borealis over the Lofoten Islands from top of the mountain Offersøykammen in Norway.
Rolf Wahl Olsen (Denmark) with Shells of Elliptical Galaxy NGC 3923 in Hydra.
Alan Friedman (USA) with A Little Fireworks. A close-up of the solar limb in the solar minimum period of the Sun’s cycle.
People and Space
Ben Bush (UK)) with Ben, Floyd and the Core. Starring Bush, his dog Floyd, Mars, Saturn, and the galactic core of Milky Way.
Planets, Comets and Asteroids
Andy Casely (Australia) with Death of Opportunity. Sequence of images through the perihelic opposition of Mars in 2018 that followed the huge dust storm that ultimately killed the Opportunty rover.
Wang Zheng (China) with Across the Sky of History. Taken in the Mongolian region of Ejina, in the historical Kingdom of Xi Xia, a meteor is falling behind withered poplar trees.
Stars and Nebulae
Ignacio Diaz Bobillo (Argentina) with Statue of Liberty Nebula.
The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer Special Prize - Joint Winners
Shuchang Dong (China) with Sky and Ground, Stars and Sand (top), and Ross Clark (UK) with The Jewels of Orion (below)
The Robotic Scope Special Prize
László Francsics (Hungary) with Infrared. Showing Saturn in all its infrared glory.
Young Astronomy Photographer
Davy van der Hoeven, age 11 (Netherlands) with Stellar Flower. The Rosette Nebula, NGC 2244, an open star cluster, is found in the Monoceros region of the Milky Way.