Astrophotography is one of the most challenging and demanding genres in all of image-making and to succeed, photographers need exceptional technique, as well as determination and persistence. Those wishing to explore the genre will be hugely inspired by the winning images from 2019’s Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest, which is organised by the Royal Observatory Greenwich and sees winning images appear in a book that goes on general sale.
Now in its eleventh year, this year’s competition received a record number of over 4,600 entries from 90 different countries. Taking this year’s top honour and a cash prize of £10,000 was Hungarian photographer László Francsics, who won the contest for his image ‘Into The Shadow’, which shows 35 phases of the total lunar eclipse that occurred in January. Competition judge Ed Robinson said: “For a single multiple-exposure image to capture this event with such positional precision, creative innovation and beauty is nothing short of masterful. The colours of our atmosphere projected onto the Moon’s disc during the eclipse are not only artistically pleasing but also offer an understanding of such events that can reveal aspects of our own, thin, yet essential part of our atmosphere.’
Winner in the Aurorae category was German photographer Nicolai Brügger, who hiked in the snow to the top of the mountain Offersøykammen in Norway, to witness and capture the breathtaking giant aurora over the Lofoten Islands. Entitled; ‘The Watcher’, Nicolai used a Nikon D600 camera paired with a 15mm f/2.8 lens to capture the dramatic scene.
Taking top honours in the Galaxies category was Danish photographer Rolf Wahl Olsen, for an image entitled; ‘Shells of Elliptical Galaxy NGC 3923 in Hydra’. With a total exposure time of 41 hours 38 minutes, the image shows the NGC 3923 galaxy, which is several billion light years away.
Claiming top spot in the Our Sun category was ‘A Little Fireworks’ by US-based Alan Friedman. The image shows a close-up of the solar limb with what looks like fireworks in the solar minimum period of the Sun’s cycle.
UK photographer Ben Bush captured this epic selfie using a Nikon D810 paired with a 24mm lens to take top spot in the ‘People and Space’ category. Taken near Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, the image – entitled; ‘Ben, Floyd and the Core’ – features the photographer and his dog. Ben used a 10-second exposure at ISO 4000 to create the frame.
China-based photographer Wang Zheng was the winner of the Skyscapes category with an incredible frame entitled; ‘Across the Sky of History’. Captured using a Canon 5D MkIV paired with a 20mm f/2 lens, the image shows withered poplar trees and was taken in the Mongolian region of Ejina, in the historical Kingdom of Xi Xia. To balance the exposure a 10-second exposure was used with a high ISO level of 6400.
Ignacio Diaz Bobillo was named winner of the Stars & Nebulae category for an image entitled; ‘Statue of Liberty Nebula’. The frame shows two nebula complexes, both of which are active stellar nurseries, and was captured with a 16-hour total exposure.
The contest included a Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year category, which was won by Davy van der Hoeven from the Netherlands for an image entitled; ‘Stella Flower’. Aged just 11, Davy captured this deep sky image of the Rosette Nebula over three nights with a total exposure time of 16 hours.
Highly Commended in the Aurorae category was this image by Latvia-based photographer Ruslan Merzlyakov, who captured ‘The Return of Green Lady’ using a Canon 6D paired with a 24mm f/2 lens above the Danish town of Nykøbing Mors.