The winners of the
Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015, with the overall prize going to the French photographer Luc Jamet for his image Eclipse Totality over Sassendalen. The image of the total solar eclipse was taken 100m above the valley of Sassendalen in the Norwegian territory of Svalbard.
Marek Kukula, one of the judges of the award, said: "The total solar eclipse was one of the astronomical highlights of the year and Luc Jamet has captured it perfectly. I love the way that the icy landscape of Svalbard reflects and intensifies the evocative colours of the sky – colours that only occur during the few minutes of totality, and which make any eclipse an unforgettable experience."
Other winning images included an aurora taken in the Abisko National Park in Lapland, a huge searing hot loop of plasma radiating from the surface of the sun and an image of the Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, taken by 15-year-old George Martin.
BBC Sky at Night Magazine's editor Chris Bramley, another competition judge, said: "The quality of this year's field of over 2,700 images from across the globe meant that there was some lively debate over the judging. Each and every category contained images of a jaw-dropping standard."
Overall winner: The total solar eclipse of 20 March 2015 seen from Svalbard – one of only two habitable locations that were able to witness totality – just 16 seconds after it began. The image shows totality about 100m above the large valley of Sassendalen situated on the only permanently inhabited island of the Norwegian archipelago. Venus can also be seen in the photograph, as a bright spot in the upper left of the image.
Aurorae Silk Skies: Taken in Abisko National Park in Lapland, the photographer had all but given up on seeing the aurora after spending many hours atop a mountain waiting to catch a glimpse of them. As he stumbled down the hill he saw the green reflection of the aurora in the snow and captured this breath-taking shot of the piercing blue lightshow coursing through the night sky.
Jamen Percy/National Maritime Museum
Planets, comets & asteroids winner: Titled The Arrow Missed the Heart, a coincidental alignment shows the Comet C/2014 E2 Jacques travelling just below the famed Heart Nebula in the constellation of Cassiopeia. However, this fantastic shot is slightly misleading as the two objects are not quite as close as they appear to be with the comet actually journeying within our solar system at a distance of several million kilometres from Earth, whilst the Heart Nebula lies much further away at a distance of 7,500 light years from our planet.
Lefteris Velissaratos/National Maritime Museum
Galaxies winner: The M33 Core shows the M33 lying approximately 3 million light years away. M33 is often named the Triangulum Galaxy after the constellation it can be found in and is the third largest member of the Local Group of galaxies behind the Andromeda Galaxy and our very own galaxy, the Milky Way. It is one of the most distant permanent objects in the night sky that can be seen with the naked eye in optimum conditions
Michael van Doorn/National Maritime Museum
People and space winner: Sunset Peak Star Trail shows campers sheltering from the wind next to old stone cottages looking up to Sunset Peak, the third highest mountain in Hong Kong standing at 869m tall. Above the mountain and at an even further distance from the campers, the stars appear to flash across the night sky leaving trails in their wake, but are in fact portraying the movement of the Earth on its axis.
Chap Him Wong/National Maritime Museum
Planets, comets & asteroids winner: The Arrow Missed the Heart. A coincidental alignment shows the Comet C/2014 E2 Jacques travelling just below the famed Heart Nebula in the constellation of Cassiopeia. However, this fantastic shot is slightly misleading as the two objects are not quite as close as they appear to be with the comet actually journeying within our solar system at a distance of several million kilometres from Earth, whilst the Heart Nebula lies much further away at a distance of 7,500 light years from our planet.
Lefteris Velissaratos/National Maritime Museum
Our sun winner: Huge Prominence Lift-Off. A massive, searing hot loop of plasma radiates from the edge of our local star – the Sun – in a phenomenon known as a solar prominence. Emanating from the outer of the Sun shell from which light is emitted also known as its photosphere; the photographer has captured this prominence extending to the corona, which is the aura of the plasma surrounding it, as it detaches from the gaseous body. During the process of detachment the prominence reached a length of over 700,000km, a length roughly equal to the radius of the Sun itself.
Paolo Porcellana/National Maritime Museum
Our moon winner: Full Face of Our Moon is an arresting shot of the Earth’s natural satellite captured with the lunar terminator – the division between light and dark - cutting it almost exactly down the centre of the image. The dark side of the Moon is subtly illuminated by the faint glow of the reflected light from the Earth, contrasting starkly with the clearly defined detail photographed on the sun-drenched side.
András Papp/National Maritime Museum
Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer: Orion DT. Lying 1,300 light years away from Earth, the Orion Nebula is found in Orion’s Sword in the famous constellation named after the blade’s owner. The Orion Nebula is one of the most photographed and studied objects in the night sky due to the intense activity within the stellar nursery that sees thousands of new stars being created. The nebula is thought to measure about 24 light years across and have a mass 2000 times that of our Sun.
David Tolliday/National Maritime Museum
Young astronomy photographer of the year: A Celestial Visitor shows Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy that made the news in late 2014 and early 2015 as it soared through the night sky and was visible to many with the naked eye, a sight that won’t be seen for another 8,000 years but was captured by 15-year-old George Martin on 18 December 2014. Comet Lovejoy has become known for its distinctive, bright green colouring, caused by excited molecules of cyanogen and diatomic carbon in its nucleus.
George Martin/National Maritime Museum
Stars & nebulae winner: The Magnificent Omega Centauri: The globular cluster, Omega Centauri, is a dense orb of approximately 10 million stars, many of which are redder, cooler and even older than our Sun. The cluster can be found 15,800 light years away from Earth and has a diameter of 150 light years.
Ignacio Diaz Bobillo