Exhibition Review: Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012, The Royal Observatory Greenwich, London, until February 17 2013
© Robert Franke
Although the setting may be modest – just one small room at the Royal Observatory - the images here are not. Surely only a jaded soul could fail to be impressed by 2012’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year; the exhibition showcases award-winning astronomy pictures, shot by amateur and professional photographers across the globe, with truly spectacular results.
For the fourth annual competition, entrants entered across categories including Earth and Space, Our Solar System, Deep Space and Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year. Special prizes were awarded for People in Space, Best Newcomer and Robotic Scope Image of the Year. The variety in subject matter has enabled all different manner of pictures to be captured.
Overall winner Martin Pugh has depicted the Whirlpool Galaxy M51 in astonishing detail, with its spiral arms extending in vivid pink and blues that reveal a distant galaxy beyond being gradually torn apart. However, his work is in good company; the standard across the board is extremely high.
© Laurent Laveder
A year of cosmic wonders across our skies, combined with advances in digital equipment, has enabled this year’s crop of photographers to snap highlights such as the transit of Venus across the sun from completely different angles. Paul Haese’s effort shows a luminous sun in minute detail, with filaments, sunspots and prominences on show.
A tiny, black dot at the top of the orange ball signifies Venus’ passing and celebrates the scale and ferocity of our nearest star. In contrast, UK resident Chris Warren captures the same event through a cloudy, early-morning sky, producing a darkly atmospheric observation.
Entries in the Earth and Space category dazzle by juxtaposing dramatic landscapes and colours with beautiful stars and patterns in the night skies. Green World, by Arild Heitmann, is a particularly stunning image.A path of swirling green lights wisp across a snow covered landscape encased by dark, foreboding trees; the lights come from energised oxygen atoms high in the atmosphere above the Nordland Fylke in Norway.
Equally breathtaking is the image of Orion, Taurus and the Pleiades against a frozen landscape backdrop that won Masahiro Miyasaka the winning image for this category, plus a unique image of the Milky Way from Luc Perrot.
© Bill Snyder
In other categories, Lóránd Fényes impresses with Elephant's Trunk, a skilful shot in which the trunk appears to uncoil from the dusty nebula towards the right of the image. Steven Christensoael has depicted the vulnerability of man with his shot of two hikers, tiny in size and lost in a pitch black forest in Yosemite National Park under the immense starlit sky.
And young photographers show that age is no barrier to talent with some excellent lunar photography on display, highlighting every crater and smooth maria (lunar “seas”) of the moon.
The images may be widely available on the internet, but it’s definitely worth seeing this exhibition in person for the excellent quality of the photographs and the pleasure of seeing them all housed together under one roof.
The accompanying video that plays in the background also provides an interesting story behind each picture and its photographer, explaining how they got their perfect shot.
- Open 10am-5pm. Admission free. See more pictures.
Follow Kat Hopps on Twitter @kathopps.
© Tunç Tezel
© Laurent V Joli-Coeur
© Lóránd Fényes
© Arild Heitmann
© Damian Peach