Astronomy Photographer of the Year at the Royal Observatory Greenwich
Awards announced 19 September, exhibition of winning images opens 20 September 2012
Huge eruptions shooting from the Sun’s surface, the dazzling green and red lights of the aurora borealis, and spectacular clouds of colourful dust in which new stars are forming thousands of light years away; these are just some of the awe-inspiring sights captured by photographers for the 2012 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. The competition, which is run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in association with Sky at Night Magazine, is now in its fourth year and continues to go from strength to strength, once again receiving a record number of spectacular entries from enthusiastic amateurs and professional photographers from around the globe.
Shortlisted entries include a breath-taking view of stars over snow-covered Japanese mountains; the full Moon setting behind a historic abbey on Mount Pirchiriano in Italy; a meteor streaking through the sky above a rock formation in Utah, USA; and a group of friends stargazing at a caravan site on the Gower Peninsular, South Wales. The diversity of locations is not just limited to Earth. Photographers have also captured sights from across our Solar System, galaxy and beyond; from detailed mosaics of our Moon’s surface, to shimmering dust columns in distant nebulae, and out beyond the Milky Way to the swirling Andromeda Galaxy.
The competition’s judges include BBC The Sky at Night’s Sir Patrick Moore, acclaimed photographer Dan Holdsworth and the Royal Observatory’s Public Astronomer Dr Marek Kukula. The winners of the competition’s four categories and three special prizes will be announced on 19 September and an exhibition of all the winning images opens the following day on 20 September at the Royal Observatory. The exhibition is free of charge and runs until February 2013. All entries to the competition were submitted via a dedicated Flickr group (www.flickr.com/groups/astrophoto). The awards ceremony can be followed live on Twitter: #astrophoto12.
Notes to editors:
Competition Categories and Prizes:
- Overall winner – Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012 (Winner £1500)
- Earth and Space: Photos that include landscape, people and other 'Earthly' things. Pictures should also include an astronomical subject – for example the stars, the Moon, or near-Earth phenomena such as aurora. (Winner £500, Runner up £250, Highly commended entries £125)
- Our Solar System: Photos of our Sun and its family of planets, moons, asteroids and comets. (Winner £500, Runner up £250, Highly commended entries £125)
- Deep Space: Photos of anything beyond our Solar System, including stars, nebulae and galaxies. (Winner £500, Runner up £250, Highly commended entries £125)
- Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Category for under-16s. (Winner £500, Runner up £250, Highly commended entries £125)
The judges will also award three special prizes:
- People and Space: Photos that include people in a creative and original way. (Winner £350, Runner up £125)
- Best Newcomer: Photos taken by people who have taken up the hobby in the last year and have not entered an image into the competition before. The judges will give special consideration to those using simple and inexpensive start-out kits. (Winner £350)
- Robotic Scope Image of the Year: Photos taken using one of the increasing number of computer-controlled telescopes at prime observing sites around the world which can be accessed over the internet by members of the public
Judging panel biographies
- Chris Bramley is the Editor of Sky at Night Magazine. A journalist for over ten years, he has been with Sky at Night Magazine since it launched in June 2005, where he has forged his passion for astronomy and observing the night sky.
- Will Gater is a science writer and astronomy author. He currently works for the Sky at Night Magazine and has previously worked for the European Space Agency’s Hubble Space Telescope press office. He blogs regularly about astronomy and astrophotography at www.willgater.com.
- Melanie Grant has been a Picture Editor and Researcher across a wide range of newspapers, magazines and the internet for the last 17 years. She has worked for the BBC, The Financial Times, The Independent, The New York Post, The Guardian and The Times. She is currently Picture Editor on Intelligent Life Magazine at The Economist.
- Rebekah Higgitt is Curator of History of Science and Technology at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Currently she is researching the history of the Royal Observatory Greenwich, including the introduction of stellar and solar photography in the late 19th century.
- Dan Holdsworth is an artist whose landscape photographs have a global range, from Californian car parks to the epic glacial topography of Iceland. In 2006–07, an exhibition of his work was shown at the National Maritime Museum.
- Olivia Johnson is Astronomy Programmes Manager at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. In over 15 years working in astronomy she has helped focus NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and used telescopes all over the world to study how structures in the Universe form and evolve.
- Marek Kukula is the Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. He has 15 years’ experience of astronomy research, specialising in the study of distant galaxies and supermassive black holes.
- Pete Lawrence has nearly 40 years’ experience as an astronomical observer and is regarded as a world-class astrophotographer. Many of his images have been published in books and online. Pete also appears on The Sky at Night.
- Chris Lintott is best known as co-presenter of the BBC's long-running The Sky at Night. He is also a researcher at the University of Oxford, where he runs Zooniverse.org, the world's most successful collection of citizen science projects.
- Sir Patrick Moore is now in his sixth decade of presenting The Sky at Night on BBC television and is synonymous with amateur astronomy. A noted lunar observer, the Russians used his maps to help guide their early Moon probes.
Designed by Christopher Wren, the Royal Observatory Greenwich is home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian and one of the most important historic scientific sites in the world. Since its founding in 1675, Greenwich has been at the centre of the measurement of time and space. Visitors can stand in both the eastern and western hemispheres simultaneously by placing their feet either side of the Prime Meridian line. Today the galleries describe the achievements of the early astronomers, explain the history of the search for longitude at sea and tell the story of precision timekeeping. The Royal Observatory Greenwich, along with the National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House and Cutty Sark, are part of Royal Museums Greenwich.
The Royal Observatory Greenwich is home to the state-of-the-art Peter Harrison Planetarium (PHP), London’s only public planetarium. The PHP has a regularly updated programme of shows which for September 2012 includes: a short film of images from the Astronomy Photography of the Year exhibition which runs before selected PHP shows; Solar Storms, a new show which gives the audience the opportunity to gaze upon the Sun up close as seen by the Stereo spacecraft; a special children’s show Space Safari, and a live astronomer led trip around the stars – Sky Tonight Live.
The Royal Observatory, in partnership with Collins, will be publishing Astronomy Photography of the Year on 25 October 2012. The official publication for the Astronomy Photography of the Year Competition will include over 200 of the most breathtaking images of space and the night sky submitted to competition since it began in 2009, and includes all winners of the 2012 competition.
Photographs will be accompanied by full details including photographer, location from where the photographs were taken and technical specifications. There is also a guide to taking astronomy photographs and a history of the practice; the foreword is written by Sir Patrick Moore.
Astronomy Photographer of the Year / RRP £25.00 / Paperback / 25 October 2012 / Pre-orders can be made at the Royal Greenwich Museum online shop. For further information or to request review copies please contact: Georgina Hill / email@example.com / Tel: 0207 243 2746
The Royal Observatory Greenwich's Modern Astronomy team is dedicated to the Public understanding of Science and its experts are available to give radio and TV interviews on astronomy – at the historic Observatory site or in the studio.
The Observatory offers a short notice service to media stations looking for comment / interviews on any aspect of modern astronomy – discussing new discoveries and space missions, telling people what to look for in this month's night sky, or talking about old favourites like black holes, is there ‘life’ and the origins of the universe.
For studio quality and interviews at short notice an ISDN line is available.
For further information or images, please contact:
Jenny Orton or Rosie Linton, Royal Observatory Greenwich Press Office Tel: 020 8312 6545/ 6789 | 07960 509 802 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.