The winning images for the Special Prizes category of the 2015 Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.
The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer looks at photos from entrants who have recently taken up astrophotography as a hobby; and the Robotic Scope Special Prize is for photographs taken with a remotely operated robotic telescope.
Winner of the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015 Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer
The 2015 winner for the Best Newcomer Special Prize was ‘Orion DT’ by David Tolliday (UK), taken in the Elan Valley in Powys, Wales, using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera with an Astrotrac mount and 500mm f/4 lens. It was shot at ISO 800 with 18- 44- and 117-second exposures.
David said of his shot: 'This image of the Orion and the Running Man Nebulae was taken on my first night of astrophotography at the dark-sky location in Elan Valley, mid-Wales. I usually take wildlife photographs so borrowed an Astrotrac mount. The temperature was -2°C, there was ice on the tripod and my camera bag was white with frost. I photographed red kites during the day and the sky at night. This was one of my most enjoyable photography days ever.'
‘To capture such a delicate image of this region in Orion is impressive,' competition judge Chris Bramley commented, 'but to do it on a first night imaging under the stars is remarkable! A worthy winner.’
Winner of the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015 Robotic Scope Special Prize
Sebastian Voltmer (Germany) was the photographer behind the winning image for this year's Robotic Scope prize. His 'Comet C/2013 A1 alongside Mars' image was taken from Siding Spring Observatory in Coonabarabran, New South Wales, Australia, using an SBIG STL11000M camera.
Sebastian told us: 'At the end of 2012, I visited Siding Spring Observatory. On that day, Comet C/2013 A1 scraped past Mars. This event was visible over the horizon for just an hour. Astrophotographer Raffaele Esposito took an RGB-sequence [Red/Green/Blue] in binning mode, which he let me use to create this high resolution LRGB-composite [Luminance/Red/Green/Blue]. I submitted this image because it shows an exciting event that was only visible from a few places close to the horizon at dusk.'
‘A great astronomical event captured for everyone to see,' competition judge Marek Kukula commented. 'The close encounter between Mars and Comet Siding Spring was a reminder that comets can sometimes collide with planets — another good reason why humanity should keep its eyes on the sky!’
Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition
The Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, sponsored by Insight Investment, 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.