Dust and pink hydrogen clouds help Martin Pugh win Astronomy Photographer of the Year

By Culture24 Reporter | 20 September 2012
A photo of a spiralling red, yellow, light blue and purple spiral within the solar cosmos
Martin Pugh, M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy© Martin Pugh
That cosmic ability to be in the right place at the right time remains vital for photographers, regardless of ability.

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).

More pictures:

A photo of a large white planet shrouded by grey and black clouds in the night sky
Chris Warren, Transit of Venus 2012 in Hydrogen-Alpha. This is a single unprocessed raw frame shot using a hydrogen-alpha filter. It was taken on an early June morning, the photographer's first and only glimpse taken through a thin patch in the clouds at Blackheath in London© Chris Warren
A photo of loads of tiny white lights and a central blue shroud within the solar system
Jacob von Chorus, Pleiades Cluster. The 15-year-old took this photo of hot, young stars making up a cluster, also capturing a diaphonous gas cloud lit by reflected starlight. It was taken around dusk© Jacob von Chorus
A photo of a glistening lake surrounded by woodland with a dramatic solar sky above
Luc Perrot, The Milky Way View from the Piton de l'Eau, Reunion Island. Perrot waited two years to succeed with this photo. At the bottom of the picture Piton des Neiges, the highest peak of Reunion Island, can be seen. The bright patch to the left of the image marks the bulge of stars at the heart of our Galaxy© Luc Perrot
A photo of loads of little white stars in a dramatic solar sky above a pitch black forest
Steven Christenson, Lost in Yosemite. The photographer came across two hikers lost in the wilderness of Yosemite late one evening in July 2011© Steven Christenson
A photo of a light blue mountain with forest trees above it under a dramatic night sky
Masahiro Miyasaka, Star Icefall. This image shows Orion, Taurus and the Pleiades as the backdrop to an eerie frozen landscape in Nagano, Japan. Bright blue stars such as the Pleiades can be as hot as 30,000 degrees Celsius© Masahiro Miyasaka
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
  • Back to top
  • | Print this article
  • | Email this article
  • | Bookmark and Share
Museum Crush digest sign up ad