On the occasion of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest 2014, we have compiled the best shots of the competition : on the programme, northern lights, eclipses, shooting stars, milky way, and solar boils. A panorama of the finest interstellar images is to discover in the article.
Photo by James Woodend/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “Aurora over a glacier lagoon”. A vivid green overheaded aurora pictured in Iceland’s Vatnajokull National Park reflected almost symmetrically in Jokulsrlon Glacier lagoon. A complete lack of wind and current combine in this sheltered lagoon scene to crete an arresting mirror effect giving the image a sensation of utter stillness. Despite this there is motion on a surprising scale, as the loops and arcs of the aurora are shaped by the shifting forces of the Earth’s magnetic field. James Woodend of Great Britain won the grand prize with the image, beating out more than 2,500 other entries. The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 contest is judged by the Royal Observatory Greenwich and BBC Sky at Night magazine.
Photo by Marco Lorenzi, China/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “At the feet of Orion”. This image focuses on NGC 1999, below Orion’s belt. Deep Space category, Highly commended.
Photo by Chris Murphy, New Zealand/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “Coastal Stairways”. Rock formation in the Wairarapa district of New Zealand create a stark foreground and contrast to the dusty clouds dancing across the Milky Way. No light pollution and a clear, crisp night afford the photographer a fantastic opportunity for this superb image. Winner of the Sir Patrick Moore Prize fore Best Newcomer.
Photo by Eugen Kamenew, Germany/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “Hybrid Solar Eclipse 2”. A Kenyan landscape serves as the foreground for a solar eclipse. Winner in the People and Space category.
Photo by Tunc Tezel, Turkey/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “Diamond and Rubies”. Many features of the Sun only become apparent during total eclipses, when the Moon blocks the dazzling bright star from our view. This image depicts the Sun’s atmosphere as a diffuse white haze, and further in the Sun’s atmosphere appears in the red light of hydrogen. The photographer has captured the moment when a tiny part of the Sun’s disc shines out between the mountains on the edge of the Moon’s disc, creating an effect known as the “diamond ring”. Highly commended, Our Solar System category.
Photo by Julie Fletcher, Australia/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “Lost Souls”. The zodiacal light seems to rise from the horizon like a pyramid with the brilliant point of Venus at its apex. Comprised of sunlight scattered and diffused by tiny grains of dust that drift between the planets, this pale feature marks out the plane of the Solar System. The stillness of the skies contrasts with the transience of the science below, with its shifting human figures reflected in the temporary waters of Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre. Runner up, People and Space category.
Photo by Patrick Cullis, USA/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “Moon balloon”. Poised on the brink of space, this astonishing shot shows the curvature of the Earth with the towering Rocky Mountains reduced to tiny wrinkles on the surface below. Taken with the aid of a high altitude balloon, launched from Boulder, Colorado, the photographer captures the breath-taking view of the Earth from 87,000 feet about its surface. The tiny dot of the Moon pictured in the distance emphasizes the vast expanase between our plante and its nearest cosmic neighbor. Highly commended in the Earth and Space category.
Photo by Bill Snyder, USA/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “The Horsehead Nebula”. The photo of the Horsehead Nebula includes the folds of illuminated gases below the well-known formation. Winner in the Deep Space category.
Photo by O Chul Kwon, South Korea/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “Venus-Lunar Occulation”. In 2012, O Chul Kwon succeeded in his goal of photographing a Venus- Lunar Occulation with this stunning time-lapse image over Mount Hamkaek in South Korea; an ambition he had held since seeing the phenomenon in 1989. The photograph shows us what happens when the Moon and Venus appear the occupy the same position in the sky. Venus becomes temporarily hidden by theMoon, only to re-emerge in less than an hour, highlighting the relatively quick apparent motion of the latter through our skies as it makes its 27.3 day orbit around the Earth. Spectacular occupations can be viewed from locations on Earth several times throughout the year. Highly commended in the Earth and Space category.
Photo by Alexandra Hart, Great Britain/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “Ripples in a Pond”. The Sun’s boiling surface curves away beneath us in this evocative shot that conveys the scale and violence of our star. The region of solar activity on the left could engulf the Earth several times over with room to spare. The Sun’s outer layers behave as a fluid, as alluded to in the image’s title, and are constantly twisted and warped by intense magnetic forces. Winner in the Our Solar System category.
Photo by David Fitz-Henry, Australia/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “The Helix Nebula”. Resembling a giant eye looking across 700 light years of space, the Helix Nebula ia one of the closest planetary nebula to Earth. The image reveals intricate details in the glowing gas that comprises the nebula including the tadpole-like “cometary knots” that appear to stream from the inner edge of the gaseous ring. These are actually clumps of gas being bombarded by sever radiation from the dying star at the center of the nebula, and the “head” of each one is approximately the size of our solar system. Runner-up in Deep Space category.
Photo by Rogelio Bernal Andreo, USA/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “California vs Pleaides”. Know since ancient times as the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades Cluster, to the right of the image consists of around a thousand stars, which formed together about 100 million year ago. This unusual view shows the Pleiades Cluster in the boarder context of its local environment, driftin through a chaotic region of dark dusk. The glowing cloud of hydrogen gas to the left of the image is the California Nebula names for its resemblance to the US state. Highly commended in the Deep Space category.
Photo by Catalin Beldea, Romania/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “Totality From Above the Clouds”. A fantastic view of one of nature’s greatist spectacles, a total solar eclipse, taken from an airplane, 3200m above Turkana Kenya. The photographer was due to shoot this rare occurrence from the eastern shore of Lake Turkan but a huge sand-storm hit the region forty minutes before totality. However, the pilot of the place decided to fly the place to intercept the eclipse, and Belda was lucky enough to capture the phenomenon, which laster a mere ten seconds, through the open door of the small airplane. Highly commended in the Earth and Space category.
Photo by Mark Hanson, USA/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “NGC 3718”. Taken from Ranch Hidalgo in Animas New Mexico, NGC 3718 is found in the constellation of Uras Major and know as a peculiar barred spiral galaxy. Gravitational interactions with its near neighbor NGC 3729 (the spiral galaxy below and to the left) are likely reason for the galaxy’s warped spiral arms, whilst a dark dust streak wraps around the centre. Winner of the Robotic Scope category.
Photo by J. P. Metsavainio, Finland/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “Veil Nebula”. IC 1340 is part of the Veil Nebula, a supernova remnant in constellation Cygnus at distance of about 1470 light years. This is one of the more luminous areas in this SNR. Image is in colors emitted by ionized Hydrogen and Oxygen. The shock front formed by the material ejected from giant explosion, the super nova, can be seen in this image. Highly commended in the Deep Space category.
Photo by Emmett Sparling, Canada/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “New Year over Cypress Mountain”. Captured as the year changed from 2013 to 2014, the juxtaposition of the very still land against the circular movement of the stars in the sky around a central point (the pole star) creates a magnificent contrast to this image. Looking closely at the light coming from each of the stars we can see different colors which are incredibly useful for their study. The different colors tell us about what stage of life the stars are: hot blue stars are young whereas red stars are nearing the end of their lives. Runner-up in the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year category.
Photo by George Tarsoudis, Greece/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest “Bets of the Craters”. The crater Tycho although not the largest on the Moon, can still be seen easily on the Moon’s surface, boasting a diameter of 86km. Formed by meteoric impacts over billions of years, these bowl-shaped lunar features are typically named after scientists, artists and explorers. The central peak of the large crater featured here, was the most likely formed when the rocks of the crater floor rebounded immediately after it was formed. Runner up in the Our Solar System category.
“Wind Farm Star Trails”. Taken in Australia near the town of Bungendore, this image captures the Capital Wind Farm on the shore of Lake George. The striking monochromatic composition depicts the power of the wind along with the motion of the sky, illuminated by the shower of stars transforming into trails as the Earth rotates. Runner up in the Earth and Space category. (Photo by Matt James, Australia/The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest)