The winners of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 13 have been announced and they are nothing short of breathtaking. A galaxy ring, lunar dawn, and serendipitous meteor will transport you off-planet and among the stars.
The top prize was given to photographer Shuchang Dong with his beautiful and delicate “The Golden Ring” – a snap of an annular solar eclipse that took place on June 21, 2020, taken in Tibet.
“Perfection and simplicity, that can lead to a winner image. The square crop has a tension with the mystic ring, and the misty bluish sky is complementary of the yellow ring. A true masterpiece,” competition judge László Francsics said in a statement sent to IFLSience.
This year the competition, organized by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, saw over 4,500 submissions coming from 75 countries. Other notable winning images include a gorgeous view of the northern lights captured from the bridge of a ship by the Third Officer Dmitrii Rybalka, while on watch duty, a beautiful dawn of Venus over the rocky horizon of the Moon captured by Nicolas Lefaudeux, and an incredible star trail taken during lockdown by Deepal Ratnayaka.
You can see the winning images in each category below. The Runners-up and Highly-Commended photos can be seen here. All images can be viewed at the exhibition that will open at the National Maritime Museum in London, UK, on September 18.
Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation
"Another Cloudy Day on Jupiter" – A new render of a Hubble Space Telescope picture highlights the many different clouds swirling through the atmosphere of Jupiter.
"Celestial Fracture" – Spectacular images from the Cassini mission are edited and organized in this intriguing art piece.
"Polar Lights Dance" – The green aurora capture near the Kara Strait is just too pretty for words. A magnificent natural spectacle.
"The Milky Ring" – This stunning mosaic puts in a single image every bit of the Milky Way, our galaxy, that is visible from Earth. Completed over two years and from China and New Zealand, the composition includes the galactic bulge, the disk, a rogue Jupiter making a surprise appearance and two extra galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.
"Beyond the Limb" – This will remind people of Earthrise, the famous Apollo 8 image, but it is not our planet dawning above the Moon –it's Venus!
People and Space
"Lockdown" – 2020 saw a year of lockdowns and people staying at home around the world and is represented in this wonderful picture where the photographer’s six-year-old daughter and her soft toy Max are set against the star trail created by the Earth rotating.
Planets, Comets and Asteroids
"A Colourful Quadrantid Meteor" – The definition of serendipity. The photographer was looking to capture galaxies not meteors, but his camera was pointing at the right place at the right time, and the camera was not zoomed into the galaxy so as the bright fireball crossed the sky – a Quadrantid meteor – was immortalized in this picture.
"Luna Dunes" - A delicate crescent of the Moon in the deep blue sky over the dunes of Death Valley National Park, California, make this skyscape composition evocative and almost too perfect.
Stars & Nebulae
"California Dreamin' NGC 1499" – The California Nebula is capture in this stunning image. These are not the true colors of the Nebula, the image was created by giving specific colors to certain gases (oxygen in blue, hydrogen in green, sulfur in red) creating this rainbow composition and highlighting what this cosmic cloud is made of.
The Manju Mehrotra Family Trust Prize For Best Newcomer
"Falcon 9 Soars Past the Moon" – A product of absolute dedication. Four hours before the Falcon 9 launch, the photographer downloaded the Photo Pills app, subscribed to flightclub.io, and started intensive research to understand both applications and pinpoint a location where the flight arc would overlap the Moon. When the photographer arrived at the launch location, he was blocked by a gate and ended up on a different dark road with trees blocking the launch pad. After making a quick calculation, he parked and ran a hundred feet in the dark and then the sky lit up as the Falcon 9 soared straight up, tilted over, and aimed right at the Moon.
Young Astronomy Photographer
"Family Photo of the Solar System " – Fifteen-year-old Zhipu Wang won in the Young Competition category for his beautiful planetary portrait of the Sun, the Moon, and the seven other planets of the Solar System (Earth excluded) taken during the year of the rat in China.
“As a planetary scientist, I applaud the work that has gone into creating this photo," judge Dr Sheila Kanani said. "I really like the composition with the Moon on the right-hand side too!”
And if you're in the mood for more glorious images that don't suit blur the line between science and art but show there doesn't even need to be a line, check out the recent winners of the Nikon Small World Competition and the Ocean Photography Awards finalists.