Astronomy Photography of the Year 2010
Winning pictures of the Astronomy Photography of the Year 2010.
Overall winner – Blazing Bristlecone by Tom Lowe (USA)
The gnarled branches of an ancient tree align with a view of our Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is a flat, disc-like structure of stars, gas and dust measuring more than 100,000 light years across. Our Sun lies within the disc, about two-thirds of the way out from the centre, so we see the Milky Way as a bright band encircling the sky. This view is looking towards the centre of our galaxy, 26,000 light years away, where dark clouds of dust blot out the light of more distant stars. What appears to be an artiﬁcial satellite orbiting the Earth makes a faint streak of light across the centre of the image.
Category: Our Solar System winner – Siberian Totality by Anthony Ayiomamitis (Greece)
During a total solar eclipse, the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun. For a few minutes, with the dazzling light of the solar disc blocked from view, we gain a rare glimpse of the corona, the Sun’s outer atmosphere. Powerful magnetic ﬁelds warp and shape the super-heated gas of the corona into glowing loops and streamers.
Category: Deep Space winner – Orion Deep Wide Field by Rogelio Bernal Andreo (USA)
The three bright stars of Orion’s Belt, on the left of this image, are a familiar sight in the winter sky. Here, however, a long exposure reveals an epic vista of dust and gas clouds which are too faint to be seen by the naked eye. This is an immense region of space hundreds of light years across. It contains several well-known astronomical sights, including the Horsehead Nebula (bottom centre) and the Orion Nebula (top right).
Category: People and Space winner – Photon Worshippers by Steven Christenson (USA)
For a few days each year, the setting Sun shines directly through the archway of a large rock formation at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, California. This event has become very popular with photographers. Alignments of the Sun with natural and man-made structures have been significant to people for thousands of years.
Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2010 – A Perfect Circle by Dhruv Arvind Paranjpye (India), aged 14
An annular eclipse occurs when the Moon is too far from the Earth to completely cover the Sun’s disc, as it would during a total solar eclipse. Seen here through a layer of cloud, a bright ring appears as the uncovered part of the Sun shines around the edges of the Moon.
Best Newcomer – The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) by Ken Mackintosh (UK)
Galaxies are vast collections of hundreds of billions of stars, gas and dust bound together by gravity. M51, or the Whirlpool, is a classic example of a spiral galaxy with swirling patterns of newly formed stars lacing gracefully through its disc. A smaller, rounder galaxy is seen towards the top of this image, slowly colliding with its larger neighbour.