The winning image for the Deep Space category of the 2009 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.
This 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 Deep Space category 2009
The 2009 winner for the Deep Space category was Martin Pugh (UK), whose ‘Horsehead Nebula’ photograph was taken with a SBIG STL11000 CCD camera guided with adaptive optics, a 12.5-inch RC Optical Systems Ritchey-Chrétien telescope and a Software Bisque Paramount ME mount.
The Horsehead Nebula is a dark cloud of gas and dust. The gas, dust and other materials condense to form dense knots, which will eventually become stars and planets. New stars have already formed inside part of the dust cloud, as can be seen on the bottom left.
‘My objective was to produce a high-quality, high-resolution image, blending in Hydrogen-Alpha data to enhance the nebulosity,’ Pugh told us. Competition judge Chris Lintott added: ‘The detail is absolutely stunning, whether it’s the fine structure in the curtain behind the horse or the subtle details on the edge of the dark nebula itself.’
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.