Introducing the Winners of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013 Contest


Too many of our recent posts regarding photography competitions have been about fraud or controversy, so here’s to an international photography competition with some honest to goodness winners that will absolutely blow your mind.

The competition in question is the Astronomy Photographer of Year 2013 contest, and we have seven outstanding winners from different categories to share with you.

First up is the overall winner and winner of the Earth and Space category taken by Australian photographer Mark Gee and seen at the top. It’s called “Guiding Light to the Stars,” and it shows the Milky Way seemingly emerging from the light of a New Zealand lighthouse.

Below, you’ll find the winner of the Our Solar System category, a composite by photographer Man-To Hui that took two months to properly process. It’s called the “Corona Composite of 2012: Australian Totality,” and it shows the stunning corona of the Sun that reminds us a bit of this photo.


Next up are the winners of the Deep Space and Young Astrophotographers categories, respectively. The first was taken by the photographer Adam Block, and is called “Celestial Impasto: Sh2–239.” The photo shows stars forming in the southern end of the Taurus molecular cloud some 450 light-years away. What you’re seeing is a 15-hour exposure.

The second photo was taken by 14-year-old Jacob Marchio, who captured this beautiful shot of the center of the Milky Way using only his Nikon D3100 set at 3200ISO and an 18mm f/3.5 lens. The shot took 288 seconds to properly expose, and was selected for how well the subtle dust lanes show up.



The final three photos make up the winners of the “Special Prizes” categories: Best Newcomer, People and Space and Robotic Scope (presented below in that same order).

The prize for Best Newcomer went to Sam Cornwell, who considers himself “a complete amateur with regard to astrophotography.” He managed to capture the Venus Transit of 2012 from Foxhunter’s Grave in the Welsh Highlands.

Interestingly the People and Space prize went to the same man who won the overall competition, Mark Gee. The winning shot shows people gathered on Mount Victoria Lookout in Wellington, New Zealand to watch the moonrise while Mr. Gee and his Canon 1DX watched them.

Finally, last but not least, is the winner of the Robotic Scope prize. The photo was taken by Hungary’s László Francsics, who had to use two different telescopes (one in Australia and one in Hungary) to capture this gorgeous image of the Trapezium Cluster of the Orion Nebula.




This is the fifth year the competition has been running, and each of these photographers deserve a hearty congratulations, as they managed to beat out some 1,200 other entries from 49 different countries to claim their prizes.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich is currently holding an exhibition of the best of this year’s entries (including, obviously, the ones you see above). For more details on all of the winners, or if you’d like to purchase the new Astronomy Photographer of the Year Collection book that launched alongside the exhibition, head over to the Observatory’s website by clicking here.

(via Hyperallergic)

Image credits: Photographs by Mark Gee, Man-To Hui, Adam Block, Jacob Marchio, Sam Cornwell, Mark Gee and László Francsics.

  • David Liang

    Absolutely stunning images.

  • Walter Parada

    Stunning imagery, but I have to question these Milky Way shots taken at night. Perhaps I’m not doing it right, but all I get are a blank sky, and I’m usually miles upon eons of miles away from a city. Guess those images are created in Photoshop — sorry to say.

  • Bartek Nowakowski

    Look up “stacking astro images” for techniques on how these kinds of vivid images are created.

  • Kevin

    10mm, f/2.8, ISO2500, 20sec exposure, start from there and experiment

  • tom

    I heard that it helps if you get a sensor that is sensitive to infrared. That allows you to capture light from a hydrogen emission line (Milky Way is mostly hydrogen). That way your camera will see more than you can by eye. I think there is at least one camera on the market that already has the right sensor, but don’t know which one that is…

  • Tom

    Canon 60DA. guess its not IR, but far enough red that you can’t see it at night. you probably already know all this.

  • Walter Parada

    Thank you for your response. I will have to do further research and see what I come up with. So much for just taking out your camera to a spot and shooting away.

  • Walter Parada

    Thank you for these specs. I will certainly try what I can garner from your recommendation.

  • Walter Parada

    Gee, wow, thank you for your information! I can see how a sky with this Milky Way look can be achieved with the right kind of sensor. So I’ll do research, but without your info, I would never have known. Thanks again!

  • HelpOut

    Walter, Keep in mind that the Milky Way is not always visible in every area at night. There are apps and websites available that will tell you when and where the milky way will “rise” for your time and location.

  • Daniel Thomassin

    Bonjour un grand merci pour votre post.Je vous souhaite un très bon weekend

  • Mark Gee

    Walter, for my image, Guiding Light to the Stars, I used a Canon 5d MkIII. I don’t use any filters nor is the sensor sensitive to infra-red. Just a standard off the shelf Canon 5d Mk III and you could certainly get the same results with an equivalent camera with a full frame sensor. The setting I used for this image was, 30 sec exposure, aperture f/2.8 and a ISO of 3200. As you can see getting as much light onto the sensor is really important with successfully capturing astro photos.

  • Walter Parada

    Thank you for your response. Currently, I am in New Zealand, and we have a reserve park called Dark Sky in the south island which gives a stunning view of the night sky, very much away from the glare of city lights. Nonetheless, I hope to re-try my efforts, especially after finding some information both online and in photo mags.