Australian photographer Mark Gee has beaten over a thousand amateur and professional photographers from around the globe to win the title of Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013. As well as securing the £1,500 top prize, his image takes pride of place in the exhibition of winning photographs opening at the Royal Observatory Greenwich
on 19 September 2013.
Gee impressed the judges with the depth and clarity of his winning shot, depicting a star-riddled Milky Way alongside the beam from a lighthouse on Cape Palliser, shining out towards the sea, the stars and the unknown. Competition judge and Royal Observatory Public Astronomer, Dr. Marek Kukula said: I love the tranquil combination of sea and sky in this beautiful image, along with the comforting human element of the cliff-top lighthouse. This view from the shores of New Zealand makes me think of the long voyages the Maori's ancestors made into unchartered oceans, guided by the stars. We're in a similar situation today, as we set out to explore the Universe.
Winners and runners up of the other categories and special prizes include the striking vision of a green Aurora Borealis captured by Fredrik Broms (Norway); a breath-taking view of a total eclipse of the Sun, sometimes called a cosmic coincidence due to the similar apparent sizes of the Sun and Moon, taken by Man-To Hui (China); a dreamlike panorama of the Rho Ophiuchi and Antares Nebulae, appearing like spots of ink floating through water, by Tom ODonoghue (Ireland); and a ghostly, visceral depiction of the 2012 Transit of Venus snapped by British newcomer Sam Cornwell, winner of the newly renamed Sir Patrick Moore prize for Best Newcomer, 14 year old Jacob Marchio from the USA impressed the judges with two images; the first a highly skilled portrait of a waxing crescent Moon and the second and winning image of the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year category, a beautifully moody picture of the Milky Way Galaxy rendered with a dusky brown colour palette.
BBC Sky at Night Magazines Editor Chris Bramley, who is a judge for the competition, said of this years contest: "With more entries than ever, and so many displaying superb compositions and a spectacular eye for detail, the judges faced a real challenge this year. The exhibition will really show the drama and majesty of the night skies never has our cosmos been captured so beautifully!"
Astronomy Photographer of the Year is run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich and BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Now in its fifth year, the competition received a record number of over 1200 entries from 49 countries. The best of these exceptional photographs winners, runners-up or highly commended in the competitions different categories and special prizes are showcased in a free exhibition in the Royal Observatorys Astronomy Centre which is open to the public from 19 September 2013 until 23 February 2014. Winners and shortlisted entries will also be published in the competitions official book, available 19 September from bookstores and online, £25. For information about entering next years competition visit www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto