The Winners of the Best Astronomy Photos of 2016
Chinese photographer Yu Jun has been named the winner of 2016’s Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year for his image entitled “Bailey’s Beads”, taking home a £10,000 prize.
Jun’s out-of-the-ordinary composite, taken during a total solar eclipse over Indonesia, was an impressive technical feat in addition to being visually fascinating. Competition judge and Royal Observatory Public Astronomer, Dr Marek Kukula called it “a tremendous achievement that pushes the boundaries of what modern astrophotography can achieve.”
“There were so many fantastic images this year,” said fellow judge and BBC Sky at Night Magazine’s Editor Chris Bramley. “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.”
This is the eighth year the Royal Observatory Greenwich has hosted the photography competition, which has received over 4,500 entries this year from both amateur and professional astronomical photographers from around the world. The observatory, the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian, first opened in 1675.
The images will be on view from September 17th to June 28th at the Royal Observatory Greenwich museum.
Ainsley Bennet captured this image of Venus and the crescent Moon on a misty morning on the Isle of Wight in October. The image "looked like something from a science fiction movie, with Binary stars rising from the horizon of an unknown planet," he writes.
Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer
Carlos Fairbairn took this image of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a Milky way satellite about 14,000 light years from us, at his first astrophotography event in Luziânia, Goiás, Brazil in 2015. He believes that a feeling of "proximity" is what we're looking for when we "aim our photon collectors at the skies."
People and Space
Wing Ka Ho took this photo in Quarry Bay, Hong Kong. Due to light pollution from the city's many lights and neon signs, "only a few stars can be seen regularly... on some of the clearest evenings," he writes.
Stars and Nebulae
Steve Brown captured the many twinkling colors of Sirius, the rainbow star, from Stokesley, North Yorkshire, UK. "I was expecting to see mostly reds, greens and blues," he writes, "but it was amazing to see purples, pinks, oranges and many other colours besides."
Robert Smith obtained the images he used to make his composite of the Cat's Eye Nebula (top) and the Ring Nebula (bottom) from the Liverpool Telescope and the SPRAT spectrograph. In a spectrograph, the light is separated into a frequency spectrum. The wavelengths of light that a nebula emits, reveals the different gases of which it consists. Robert writes, "What I love most about these images is that they allow us to see very familiar deep-sky objects in a different way."
Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year
15 year old Brendan Devine captured this image of our Moon from his front lawn in Chicago, Illinois. He found that inverting the colors in the image made it possible to "show detail that many people find difficult to see normally, and helps to highlight the complexity and beauty of the lunar surface."
"This is the moon of our dreams," Jordi writes of his image, taken from L'Ametlla del Vallès in Barcelona, Spain. It shows the southern region of the lunar surface and features a number of impact craters, such as Barocius, Baco, Cuvier, Lillius, and Jacobi.
Planets, Comets, and Asteroids
Damian was lucky to enjoy near perfect planet viewing conditions in Marley Vale, Barbados on the early morning of March 18th, 2016. "Breathtaking views through the telescope," he writes, "so much so I was still observing when the sun had risen!"
Nicolas set himself up for a challenge at the Castor Sirene Observatory in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France, while trying to capture, not only the M94 galaxy, but also all the smaller galaxies in the background. His efforts paid off, with this winning image.
György captured this impressive Aurora Borealis during a total solar eclipse in Svalbard, Norway. Lights from nearby Longyearbyen Airport illuminated the foreground.
Our Sun and Overall Winner
The Baily's beads effect is a feature of total solar eclipses. As the moon "grazes" by the Sun during a solar eclipse, the rugged lunar topography allows beads of sunlight to shine through in some places, and not in others. "I took a series of photos of the total solar eclipse of 2016, in Luwuk Indonesia, and stacked them to show the baily's beads' dramatic changes," writes Photographer Yu Jun.