Photographers capture ‘out of this world’ images of the Milky Way

Images from the Milky Way Photographer Of The Year contest are spectacular…

Space, the final frontier, especially for photographers as astrophotography is one of the most technically demanding genres of image-making on the planet. With that in mind, the images on display from the Milky Way Photographer Of The Year contest are even more inspiring. The contest, run by Dan Zafra, the man behind Capture The Atlas, has published the last edition of their annual Milky Way photographer of the year collection featuring amazing frames of our galaxy.

The contest features photographs captured around the globe, including entries shot in Namibia, New Zealand, Chile, Spain, United States, Australia and even Antarctica. Capture The Atlas explains that; ‘Even though the Milky Way can be photographed throughout the year, the Galactic Center, which is the Milky Way core and the area with more interest, is only visible during the commonly known as “Milky Way season”. This season ranges from late March to early October in most of our planet and the peak with more hours of visibility takes place in June.’ 

Along with timing, the other requirements for a spectacular shot are of course dark skies away from light pollution. While there’s more information on the Capture The Atlas website of how to shoot the Milky Way, we’ve got some of the very best images to share with you now…

Image by Stefan Leibermann/Milky Way Photographer of the Year

Entitled ‘Deadvlei’, this image by Stefan Liebermann was captured in Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia. Stefan commented that; ‘The trees in Deadvlei have been dead for over 500 years. Located in Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia, these saplings grew after local rivers flooded because of severe rainfalls, but died after the sand dunes shifted to section off the river.’

Image by Debbie Heyer / Milky Way Photographer of the Year

You can instantly see why photographerDebbie Heyer gave this image the titles ‘Alien Eggs’. Captured in New Mexico, USA Debbie commented; ‘If you don’t believe in aliens, you will after seeing this place. This is not an easy terrain to navigate, and it is very easy to get lost. Luckily, my friends knew the area well, and we could enjoy this photographer’s paradise of endless compositions that blew my mind!’

Image by Ramon Morcillo / Milky Way Photographer of the Year

Entitled; ‘Enchanted Monastery’, this frame by Ramon Morcillo looks like it’s from the set of a fairytale, but was in fact shot in Ávila, Spain. Ramon commented; ‘ was fascinated by the idea of planning this image; having the Milky Way arch above the ancient and lonely bell tower. The monastery was an Augustinian convent founded in 1504 and called the “Monastery of Our Lady of the Crag”. A few hundred miles drive followed by a long walk and a challenging climb and bushwhack ended in this beautiful and magical place where I could capture our galaxy arch.’

Image by Michael Goh / Milky Way Photographer of the Year

The remote location of Dumbleyung Lake in Western Australia was the site for Michael Goh’s spectacular frame, entitled ‘Nightmare’. Michael explains; ‘The lake is surrounded by hundreds of trees that have died due to the salt levels, and, on a calm night, all the stars reflect off the water. For this image, the dead trees gave me the idea of capturing them clawing up at the sky – the fish-eye panorama turned out better than expected, as the trees almost looked like tentacles.  The location is very dark, so with no moonlight available, I used my self-portrait style with the figure holding the light (now a bit clichéd) to create more depth in the image as a solitary figure standing amongst the dead trees.’

Image by Julio Castro / Milky Way Photographer of the Year

Photographer Julio Castro headed to Utah, USA to capture this frame, entitled; ‘Good Night Utah’. ‘ After visiting this location in 2017, it became my personal obsession to take a photo there, mainly because I couldn’t take any night shots since the place was very remote. In May, I decided to go back and try to take the photo I had in mind. After a very cloudy night, just before dawn, the sky opened up, and a spectacular starry sky gave me the opportunity to take this picture with the arch of the Milky Way above the “wave” of rock that seems to surround the two hills, creating an almost perfect circle and allowing me to get the photo I had dreamed of.’

Image by Miles Morgan / Milky Way Photographer of the Year

Mixing the fury of a volcano with the beauty of the Milky Way was the perfect recipe for photographer Miles Morgan, who shot this image of Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. Miles commented; ‘

During my trip to Hawaii, we were typically up around 2:30 am, and playing all day and well past sunset out on the lava flows. On this particular evening, after shooting the sunset, we checked Stargazer and saw that around 3-4 am, many of the planetary elements would be aligning around the plume at the Halema’uma’u crater. Even though the skies were covered during most of the night, we happened to be at the right time to capture the lava and the Milky Way’