The winning image for the Deep Space category of the 2012 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.

The Deep Space category is for photos of anything beyond our Solar System, including stars, nebulae and galaxies. Long-exposure photography is the best way to see and capture colour views of our distant neighbourhood; visit How to photograph deep space objects for expert tips.

Winner of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012

The 2012 winner for the Deep Space category was Martin Pugh (UK/Australia), whose photograph ‘M51 – the Whirlpool Galaxy’ was taken with a Planewave 17-inch CDK telescope, a Bisque Paramount ME mount and an Apogee U16M camera.

M51 is the archetypal spiral galaxy, and for centuries astronomers have studied it in order to understand how galaxies form and evolve. M51 has been drawn and photographed many times, from the sketches of astronomer Lord Rosse in the 19th century to modern studies by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Pugh made use of exceptionally stable atmospheric conditions, minimising twinkling caused by air turbulence to produce a sharp image in which every detail of the galaxy is visible. ‘I was always going to be excited about this image given the exceptional seeing conditions,’ said Pugh, ‘… and the addition of several hours of Ha data has really boosted the HII regions.’

Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition

The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is an annual global search for the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos by amateur and professional astrophotographers. The winning images are showcased in a stunning exhibition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. 

Visit the IAPY 2015 exhibition