Enjoy a feast of eye-candy in the form of the spectacular winning entries to this year’s Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. Once again, some fantastic astro photos were revealed at the award ceremony on Friday at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, in London.
Thousands of amateur and professional photographers competed for the much-prized title of Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year, and this year it went to Chinese photographer Yu Jun, who captured an unusual sequence of images showing the phenomenon of Baily’s Beads during the total eclipse of the Sun that occurred on 9 March, 2016. (You can also see last year’s winning entries in a previous post.)
Baily’s Beads are the brilliant beads of sunlight that shine through valleys on the Moon’s limb during the initial and final stages of the total phase of a solar eclipse. Yu Jun captured their changing appearance throughout March’s eclipse with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, and then stacked them together to produce a memorable image. Also visible are pinkish-red prominences on the Sun. The image won the Our Sun category and was overall winner.
The Royal Observatory’s Public Astronomer, Dr Marek Kukula, who was one of the judges, said: “This is such a visually striking image, with its succession of fiery arcs all perfectly balanced around the pitch black circle of totality. It’s even more impressive when you realise what it shows: the progress of a solar eclipse, all compressed into a single frame with consummate skill and precision. A tremendous achievement that pushes the boundaries of what modern astrophotography can achieve.”
The display of northern lights that won the Aurorae category of astro photos happened on the evening of the total solar eclipse in 20 March 2015, and was witnessed from near Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen. The photo was taken by György Soponyai, from Hungary, when the Sun was shining 9° below the horizon, meaning it was evening nautical twilight on the shore of Greenland Sea. The Adventtoppen Mountain, standing at 2,579ft tall, makes a towering backdrop.
Messier 94 is a spiral galaxy lying 16 million light-years away. Noted for its two-ringed structure, the centre of its structure includes shimmering pinks of the inner ring that reveal hectic star-forming activity, leading to its sometimes being referred to as a starburst ring. The photographer has also captured the often unseen galactic halo of M94 made up of stars, hot gases and dark matter, from his site, the Castor Sirene Observatory, at Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France.