Winners: Earth and Space

Winner

Guiding Light to the Stars by Mark Gee (Australia)

Guiding Light to the Stars by Mark Gee (Australia)

8 June 2013

What the photographer says:

‘I recently spent a night out at Cape Palliser on the North Island of New Zealand, photographing the night sky. I woke after a few hours’ sleep at 5 a.m. to see the Milky Way low in the sky above the Cape. The only problem was that my camera gear was at the top of the lighthouse, seen to the right of this image, so I had to climb the 250-plus steps to retrieve it before I could take this photo...

‘By the time I got back the sky was beginning to get lighter with sunrise only two hours away. It looked surreal but amazing as the twilight started to creep into the night sky. I took a wide panorama made up of 20 individual images to get this shot. Stitching the images together was a challenge but the result was worth it!’

Canon 5D Mark III camera; 24mm f/2.8 lens; ISO 3200; 30-second exposure

What it shows:

This is a spectacular view of the Milky Way arching over the coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The brightest light in the image is from the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. The central patch of light in the sky marks the bulge of stars at the heart of our Galaxy, 26,000 light years away. To the left, the two Magellanic Clouds, small satellite galaxies much further away, appear as faint smudges in the sky.

What the judges say:

Pete Lawrence says: ‘This is a great composition. I love the way that the Milky Way appears to emanate from the lighthouse – really cementing the connection between the stars and the landscape. I also love the way the Milky Way drags your view out to sea, inviting you to go out and explore the unknown.’

Melanie Grant says: ‘One of the best landscapes I have seen in my five years as a judge. Much photographed as an area but overwhelming in scale and texture. Breathtaking!’

What Flickr members say:

Latent0Image says: ‘A really spectacular image. Thanks for sharing the photo and your story.’

robjdickinson says: Worth the effort Mark! I think you need a second set of gear?

Runner-up

Green Energy by Fredrik Broms (Norway)

Green Energy by Fredrik Broms (Norway)

20 March 2013

What the photographer says:

‘With this image I wanted to show the magic and dramatic feeling of being drawn into the whirlpool of a powerful Northern Lights corona. With its enormous power it almost resembles an artist’s impression of what the fate of light around a black hole might look like. The illumination of the snow is created by the strong moonlight.’

Nikon D800 camera; Nikkor 14–24mm f/2.8 lens at 14mm; ISO 800; 4-second exposure

What it shows:

The shifting lights of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) can take on many shapes and forms as they are moulded by the Earth’s complex magnetic field. Here, sheets and planes of glowing gas appear to be twisted into a giant vortex above Grøtfjord in Norway.

Highly commended

Icy Visitor by Fredrik Broms (Norway)

Icy Visitor by Fredrik Broms (Norway)

20 March 2013

What the photographer says:

‘This image shows Comet C/2011 L4 Panstarrs. It is visible in the blue light of dusk before it sets behind the rugged mountains of a Norwegian fjord on a cold evening in March.’

Nikon D800 camera; Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 lens at f/3.2; ISO 640; 1.6-second exposure

What it shows:

Like the snowy mountains in the foreground, the nucleus of Comet Panstarrs is composed largely of ice and rock. The nucleus itself is just a few kilometres across but, as it neared the Sun in early 2013, ice evaporating from the surface formed a tail of gas and dust hundreds of thousands of kilometres long.

Aurora photography provides a great opportunity to escape to a world with just you, your camera and the Universe.

Highly commended

A Quadruple Lunar Halo by Dani Caxete (Spain) 

A Quadruple Lunar Halo by Dani Caxete (Spain)

2 December 2012

What the photographer says:

‘Sometimes falling ice crystals make the atmosphere into a giant lens, causing arcs and halos to appear around the Sun or Moon. This past Saturday night was just such a time near Madrid, where a winter sky displayed not only a bright Moon but as many as four rare lunar halos. The brightest object in this image is the Moon. Far in the background is a skyscape that includes Sirius, the belt of Orion and Betelgeuse, all visible between the inner and outer arcs.’

Nikon D7000 camera; 8mm f/5.6 lens; ISO 500; 30-second exposure

What it shows:

All of the light which reaches the ground from space must first travel through the Earth’s atmosphere. During its journey the light can be altered by all sorts of atmospheric phenomena. Here, tiny ice crystals high above the ground refract the moonlight, diverting it into a number of beautiful halos.

Highly commended

Snowy Range Perseid Meteor Shower by David Kingham (USA) 

Snowy Range Perseid Meteor Shower by David Kingham (USA)

12 August 2012

What the photographer says:

‘For the 2012 Perseid meteor shower I knew I wanted to create a unique nightscape. To achieve this, I needed dark skies free of light pollution and a moonlit landscape in the perfect orientation with the constellation Perseus. After many hours of scouting, I found my location in south-central Wyoming in the Medicine Bow National Forest. I set up my equipment just as twilight was fading away. I spent the next seven hours taking continuous photos until the Sun rose.’

Nikon D700 camera; Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens; ISO 3200; 30-second exposure

What it shows:

The Perseid meteors get their name from the constellation of Perseus, from where they appear to come. However, even at the peak of the shower it is impossible to predict exactly when or where the next meteor will appear. Here, the photographer has combined 23 individual stills to convey the excitement and dynamism of this natural firework display.

Sharing the magic of the northern sky

We visited Fredrik Broms on location to understand the story behind his Earth and Space image Green Energy.