Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astrophotography Contest 2014

Vatnajokull National Park reflected almost symmetrically in Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon. (James Woodend, United Kingdom Aurora Over a Glacier Lagoon, Overall Winner, Earth and Space. A vivid green overhead aurora pictured in Iceland’s) 

A week after couple of solar storms, the world witness the spectacular auroras and picture taken by James Woodend of Northern Lights effects won the top prize at the astrophotography contest 2014 held by the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

The contest lured astrophotographers from around the world and participated with their breathtaking pictures of planet and sky. Expert photographer James Woodend, a British, took the winning picture of a brilliant green aurora into the sky reflected in glacial lagoon of Iceland’s Vatnajokull National Park. “I love the combination of whites and blue in the glacier with the chilly green of the aurora in this wonderfully icy picture,” Marek Kukula, a public astronomer utilizing Royal Observatory and one from the competitors judges, declared in a release. “We was all completely in awe of this colors and symmetry of James’ shot.”

As Woodend journeyed to Iceland to obtain the perfect image, several other photographers went to great lengths to have their photographs. Patrick Cullis, an American professional photographer who took a high-altitude balloon from Boulder, Colorado, and photographed the Rocky Mountains from 87,000 above the Earth. Catalin Beldea, who leaned from open-door of an airplane about 10,500 feet above Kenya to take a picture of solar eclipse, after a sand-storm interrupted his plan to photograph the eclipse from Lake Turkana’s coast.

The Horsehead Nebula (IC 434). This image clearly depicts the well-known red glow that appears to come from behind the horsehead, produced by hydrogen gas ionized by neighboring stars. (Shishir and Shashank Dholakia, United States, age 15, Winner, Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year.) 

This year, Royal Observatory received 2,500 entries, more than double received in 2013. Some show the interplay of globe and space, while some peer deep into the sky. The Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year award was given to 15-year-old American twins Shishir and Shashank Dholakia for their picture of Horsehead Nebula 1,500 light-years away from us.

“It was regularly hard to believe that many were taken from the surface of the Earth and not a space telescope orbiting our planet,” Chris Bramley, editor of BBC Sky at Night Magazine and the contest judge, said in the press release.

The winners are displayed at the exhibition at the Royal Observatory’s Astronomy Center from Sept. 18, 2014 to Feb. 22, 2015.

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