That cosmic ability to be in the right place at the right time remains vital for photographers, regardless of ability.
© Martin Pugh
Martin Pugh, the Australian-based winner of this year’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year award, portrayed the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) in infinitesimal detail, complete with spiral arms, faint trails of light betraying a companion galaxy, the effects of gravity and distant galaxies beyond.
“It’s a remarkable achievement by an amateur astronomer – one of the best images of M51 that I’ve seen,” says Dr Marek Kukula, a member of the judging panel who believes Pugh’s second triumph – he previously won top prize in 2009 – “made the most of exceptionally good atmospheric conditions”.
“It captures an astonishing range of details in the iconic galaxy – the beautiful spiral structure, dark lanes of dust and the way the pink clouds of hydrogen really stand out.”
Superlatives are never far from the lips of observers when it comes to the Royal Observatory’s annual competition.
But given that other winning shots from a record year for entries include the active surface of the sun being passed by the black disc of Venues, an image of Orion, Taurus and Pleiades above Japan and a view of hot young stars spilling blue-hued gas over Canada, it’s undoubtedly deserving of hype.
“Many of the pictures have been taken with equipment that was out of the range of the amateur many years ago,” reflects Sir Patrick Moore, a fellow judge.
“I also like the choice of subjects: photographing people and the night skies is very difficult. The entrants have done very well indeed.”
Pugh will receive £1,500. His photo is the star exhibit in a display of the winning entries opening at the Observatory today (September 20 2012).
- Exhibition runs until February 2013. Visit www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto for information about next year’s competition.
© Chris Warren
© Jacob von Chorus
© Luc Perrot
© Steven Christenson
© Masahiro Miyasaka