The Royal Observatory Greenwich has so far unveiled the winners of the prestigious 2020 Astronomy Photographer of the Year awards. And this year’s top award went to a beautiful picture of the Andromeda galaxy, making it look like you could actually touch and touch it.
Now in its twelfth year, more than 5,000 entries were received from six continents for this year’s competition. The images were submitted for one of 9 categories – including Milky Way, Aurora, Our Moon, People and Space, and Young Photographer of the Year, of which others – and a total of 11 images were awarded. There are 9 category winners, one overall winner selected from the categories and two special values for “best newcomer” and “imaging innovation”.
The winner of the category of galaxies, overall winner and 2020 title astronomy photographer of the year, Nicolas Lefadeux of France, went for his stunning photo. Andromeda Galaxy at arm’s length?:
Title: Have you ever dreamed of touching the galaxy? This version of the Andromeda Galaxy appears to be arm’s length between clouds of stars. Unfortunately, this is just an illusion, as the Milky Way is still 2 million light years away. To obtain the tilt-shift effect, Photographer 3D printed a part to place the camera at an angle to the focus of the telescope. The blur created by the defocus on the edges of the sensor gives the illusion of proximity to Andromeda.
Gears and settings: F / 9, iOptron iEQ30 mount, Sony a7S camera (modified), ISO 2000, 2 hours 30 minutes total exposure on Sky-Watcher Black Diamond 100mm apochromatic refractor telescope
According to the Observatory, the judges were “fascinated by Lefedex’s awe-inspiring image.”
“For most of us, our nearest neighbor galaxy Andromeda can also feel so far away and inaccessible,” says Judge Robinson. “Yet to create a picture that gives us the impression that it is within our physical reach is truly magical, and to some extent appropriate as we adjust after such socially distorted times.”
In addition to bragging rights, Lefedex will receive £ 10,000 (~ $ 12,800) for its effort, while Young Photographer of the Year and other category winners will walk away with £ 1,500 (~ $ 1,920), and special prize winners each. Will receive £ 750. (~ $ 960).
Scroll down to see the winners of each category and two special prizes. If you have been waiting for a while this morning, on the pretext of avoiding Earth, 2020, now is your chance.
Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year
Photographer: Alice Fock Hang (Reunion), age 11
Title: Four planets and the moon
Title: To put a picture of a planetary alignment requires rigor and patience but also luck. That evening, despite preparing everything for a week, the photographer faced the clouds. The magic began after sunset, where the Moon, Venus, Mercury, Star Antares, Jupiter and Saturn can be seen in the Indian Ocean. Looking at the map of the sky, the photographer could see that Pluto is also above Saturn but invisible in my image. Notice the presence of Alpha Centauri on the left side of the image, as well as our immense galaxy, the Milky Way.
Gears and settings: Nikon D610 camera, 35mm f / 3.2 lens, ISO 3200, 18 x 13-second exposure
Photographer: Nicholas Rommelt (Germany)
Title: The green lady
Title: The photographer had heard a lot of stories about ‘Lady in Green’. Although she has had the opportunity to be photographed in Northern Lights many times, she had never seen the ‘Green Lady’ before. On a trip to Norway, she unexpectedly appeared with her magical green clothing, which lit up the entire sky with shades of green, blue and pink.
Gears and settings: Canon EOS R camera, 14mm f / 1.8 lens, ISO 6400, 4 x 1.6-second exposure.
Photographer: Ellen Pillu (France)
Title: Tyco Crater Region with Colors
Title: Tycho Crater is one of the most famous craters on the Moon. This huge impact has left very impressive marks on the lunar surface. With the clay colors, the Tyco is even more impressive. This photo combines a session with a black and white camera, to capture detail and sharpness, and a session with a color camera, to capture earthen colors. These colors mainly come from metal oxides in small glass balls and can give useful information about the geology and history of the Moon. Blue shows high titanium oxide concentrations and red shows high iron oxide concentrations. This picture shows the incredible beauty and complexity of our natural satellite.
Gears and settings: Ceslestron C9.25 telescope at f / 10 and f / 6.3, Orion Sirius EQ-G mount, ZWO ASI178MM and ASI178MC cameras, multiple 15-milliseconds expansion
Photographer: Alexandra Hart (UK)
Title: Liquid incense
Title: The solar minimum can be seen as a calm sun and is considered dull in white light, but if you look at the structure on a small scale up close, the surface is alive with motion. This surface is about 100 kilometers thick and rotates at an ever-boiling speed of these convection cells, lasting about 15 to 20 minutes. They are about 1,000 kilometers in size and make a beautiful ‘crazy paving’ structure for us to enjoy.
Gears and settings: Celestron C11 XLT Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope on f / 50, Baader Solar Continuum Filter with ND3.8 AstroSolar Film, Sky-Watcher EQ6 Pro Mount, ZWO-AS1717MM Camera, 8.431-millisecond exposure
People and space
Photographer: Rafael Schmoll (Hungary)
Title: Technology gel
Title: The star at the center of the image is the Albero double star, surrounded by traces of satellites. How many more can be reached by reaching next year’s competition? There can be thousands of moving points in the sky. To create Astrophotos, photographers will have to plan carefully where to place the telescope, and this will be more difficult with more satellites on the way in the future.
Gears and settings: Sky-Watcher Quattro 200/800 Astrograph Telescope (Modified) at f / 4, Sky-Watcher EQ6-Pro goto mount, Canon EOS 6D camera, ISO 1600, 5 x 150-second exposure
Planets, Comets and Asteroids
Photographer: ज़ukasz szka (Poland)
Title: Space Between America…
Title: This image shows the really close alignment of the Moon and Jupiter which occurred on 31 October 2019. In the full resolution picture, you will see that the three moons of Jupiter are also visible. This small project is a big challenge that involves a lot of luck and good conditions. There was a great demand in data acquisition to capture this phenomenon on such a large scale as Jupiter and the Moon traveled quite fast in the sky. This occurred at an elevation of only 9 degrees from the horizon. I wanted to show the vast emptiness and shape of space, which is why there is so much ‘nothing’ between the two major parts of the image.
Gears and settings: Sky-Watcher Newtonian 10-Telescope f / 4.8, Bader MPCC Coma Corrector Filter, Sky Watcher NEQ-6 Mount, ZWO ASI178 MM-C Camera, 300 x 10-millisecond exposure per channel
Photographer: Thomas Kast (Germany)
Title: Painting Sky
Title: The photographer was searching for clear skies in Finnish Lapland to capture the beauty of a polar night and did not believe his eyes as he waited behind the clouds. Polar stratospheric clouds are something that photographers had been looking for for years and had only seen in photographs until that day. He took his camera on a frozen river and started taking photos to get a good view. The clouds gradually changed their shape and color. It was like watching someone painting, especially when the sun was low – it started to get a dark orange and the pink color became stronger.
Gears and settings: Nikon D850 camera, 120mm f / 16 lens, ISO 64, 1/40-second exposure
Stars and Nebula
Photographer: Peter Ward (Australia)
Title: Cosmic Inferno
Title: NGC 3576 is a famous nebula in the southern sky, but is shown here without any stars. The software only reveals the nebula, which is mapped to an incorrect color palette. The scene appears as a celestial fire-maestrostrom. The image is intended to reflect media images taken in Australia during 2019 and 2020, where massive bushes destroyed native forests and claimed more than 12 million acres of land. It shows that nature can operate on huge scales and serves as a warning that our planet needs nutrition.
Gears and settings: Aluna Optics RC-16 binoculars f / 8, 5nm HA filter, Paramount ME II mount, SBIG STX-16803 camera, 32 x 10 minute exposure
Sir Patrick Moore Award for Best Newcomer
Photographer: Bence Toth (Hungary)
Title: The image shows the central region of the California Nebula (NGC 1499). It tries to show the uncontrollable vast energy of nature in a form that resembles the huge waves of storms in the sea. RGB channels are used to create star dyes, and all nebulosities are classified by hydrogen-alpha and SII channels. Color assignment of narrowband channels is done to create an image close to the correct color, but preserving fine detail and depth provided by narrow filters.
Gears and settings: Sky / Watcher Quattro 200P Telescope in F / 4, Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Mount, ZWO ASI1600MM Pro Camera, RGB-Ha-SII Composite, 7 hours 50 minutes total exposure
Annie Maunder Award for Imaging Innovation
Photographer: Julie F. Hill (UK)
Title: Infrared Saturn
Title: The Dark River is a sculptural work that maps, or mirrors, a Milky Way celestial unit that uses the largest images from its central regions. This monumental image of the Milky Way, referencing Elizabeth Kessler’s notion of astronomical simile, as well as Gaston Bechelard’s idea ‘intimate immortality’, reworked into a sculptural ‘affectionate space’, showing nearly 84 million stars Is one who is physical and imaginative. Engagement with the viewer. The image was obtained with the VSTA survey telescope at Paranal Observatory of ESO in Chile and contained approximately nine billion pixels. This was an incredibly large file to work on so the artist had to cut it into manageable pieces to print. He made 2.2 x 1 meter sections, which he painstakingly printed and hand-glued to make a 9 x 5 meter sheet in the flat.
The image was digitally printed at 300 dpi using archive pigment ink on Japanese paper, which is light yet strong. In creating this piece, the artist was emulating the mosaic process used by astronomers when processing and compositing data. The artist retained natural colors, with astronomers coloring the image, which makes the celestial and more mundane and reliable. The full-size print is cut to suit the location in which it is displayed.
Gears and settings: VISTA Survey Telescope, Infrared J 1.25μm, Infrared H 1.65μm, Infrared 2.15μm Channel, ESO / VVV Survey / D. Miniti gratitude: Ignacio Toledo, Martin Cornmeser
Winners, runners-up, highly acclaimed and shortlisted photos will also be featured Insight Investing Astronomy Photographer of the Year The exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, which opens to the public on 23 October.
To learn more about the competition, see all the winners, or get more information about this year’s exhibition, see the Royal Observatory website here.