The Andromeda galaxy is 2 million light years away Land, but it looks close enough that you can touch it in an image that took home the first prize in the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2020 competition.
French photographer Nicolas Lefaudeux used a technique called tilt-shift – positioning a camera lens in a way that manipulates depth of field in an image – to bring our closest galaxy even closer. His photo blurs the foreground and background leaving the center sharply in focus, making the galaxy appear surprisingly close, almost as if the viewer could reach the photo and grab it.
The contest judges selected Lefaudeux̵
The cleverness of Lefaudeux’s technique made the photo “truly magical,” judge and photographer Ed Robinson said in the statement. Lefaudeux’s illusion of proximity in the galaxy seemed particularly poignant right now, as many people around the world are practicing social distancing due to COVID-19 pandemicRobinson said.
Another outstanding photo, “Cosmic Inferno”, taken by photographer Peter Ward from Australia, was the winner in the “Stars and Nebulae” category. In his image of NGC 3576, a bright nebula in the Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way galaxy, Ward used software to remove the surrounding stars from sight, leaving only the nebula’s flaming tendrils. Ward then mapped the nebula on a palette of fiery false colors, a choice intended to raise public awareness. forest fires in his home country, Down Under, he said in a statement.
Cooler palettes dominated in other winning photos, such as the bright greens and blues of the aurora in “The Green Lady”, captured in Norway by photographer Nicholas Roemmelt; and sparkling pink and pale yellow in “Painting the Sky”, photographed in Finnish Lapland by Thomas Kast. The winning photos for 2020 were announced yesterday (September 10) at an awards ceremony streamed from Royal Museums Greenwich Youtube and so on Facebookand can be viewed on the competition website.
Based in the UK and open to photographers of all skill levels, the Royal Observatory Greenwich International Competition celebrates exceptional space photography. Judges award prizes for spectacular images of celestial objects such as the moon, the sun, auroras and galaxies and for photos juxtaposing people (or showing the influence of humans) next to the night sky. Other categories elevate photographers who are under 15; images that combine elements of art and science; and rumors demonstrating innovative image processing of open source data, according to the competition website.
“From vast aurora to fiery nebulae to an intimate look at our closest galactic neighbor, there really is something for everyone,” competition judge Steve Marsh, an art editor for BBC Sky at Night Magazine, said in a statement.
Winning photos from last year’s contest are currently on display at the National Maritime Museum in the UK, where they will remain until 13 September, and the 2020 contest winners will be on public view from 23 October to 8 August 2021, according to Greenwich Royal Museums website.
Originally published in Live Science.