Saturday, September 24, 2011

Astronomy Photographer Competition 2011

Lomba foto astronomy yang diselenggarakan oleh Royal Observatory ini telah memasuki tahun ketiga dan saat ini diikuti oleh 800 peserta dari astronomer seluruh dunia. Lomba ini mengikutsertakan pengguna internet untuk memilih, foto mana yang mereka sukai dan juga dipubliskan di majalah Sky dan Night Magazine.

Earth And Space Category
This category is for photos that include landscape, people or other 'Earthly' things along with an astronomical subject.

Forming a dramatic backdrop to a tropical skyline, the Milky Way galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars in a disc-like structure. Our Sun lies within the disc, about two-thirds of the way out from the centre, so we see it as a bright band encircling the sky. This southern hemisphere view highlights dark clouds of dust that aboriginal Australian astronomers called the ‘Emu in the sky’.

The aurorae, or Northern and Southern Lights, are caused by the interaction between the Earth’s atmosphere and a stream of particles from the Sun known as the solar wind. The Earth’s magnetic field funnels these particles down over the planet’s poles giving rise to the glowing curtains of coloured light. These are best seen in the night sky near to the North and South Poles.

Highly Recommended
 A shimmering aurora, resulting from magnetic activity on the Sun, provides a spectacular background to a dramatic volcanic eruption on Earth. A dark cloud of ash at ground level can be seen to the left in this photograph, while there is bright red lava at the mouth of the volcano. The eruption caused substantial disruption to international travel in the spring of 2010.

 During the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks each year in August, hundreds of meteors – often called shooting stars – can be seen in a single night. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through trails of debris left by comets. Small fragments of comet dust leave a bright and sometimes colourful streak as they heat up while passing through the Earth’s atmosphere.   This photograph captures one momentary flash beside the 15th-century St Michael’s Tower.

The Moon often appears coloured when close to the horizon, as its light is filtered through the thick layers of the Earth’s atmosphere. In this image, made up of three overlapping photographs, an incredibly red full moon rises over low clouds in the early evening. At these low angles, the Moon can look much larger than usual because our eyes compare it with familiar objects on the skyline.

Our Solar System Category
This category is for photos of our Sun and its family of planets, moons, asteroids and comets.

Category winner and overall competition winner
 Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System. It is a giant ball of gas with no solid surface, streaked with colourful bands of clouds and dotted with huge oval storms.
In addition to the swirling clouds and storms in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere, surface features of two of the planet’s largest moons can be seen in this remarkably detailed montage. Io, to the lower left, is the closest to Jupiter. The most geologically active object in the Solar System, its red-orange hue comes from sulphurous lava flows. Ganymede, the largest moon in the Solar System, is composed of rock and water ice. The Planet and its moons have been photographed separately, then brought together to form this composite image.

Runner Up
 Saturn, the second largest planet in the Solar System, is best known for its brilliant rings. These rings are made up of countless ice and dust particles orbiting the planet in intricate patterns, some of which can be seen in this series of photographs. Taken about forty minutes apart, these images show the progress of a huge storm, called the Dragon Storm, moving in Saturn’s upper atmosphere as the planet rotates.

Highly Recommended
 The Moon’s many craters have been formed by meteorites, asteroids and comets which have crashed into the lunar surface over billions of years. Craters can range in size from a few centimetres to hundreds of kilometres. The large crater to the lower right of this photograph is almost 200 kilometres wide and over three kilometres deep. It has a central peak reaching nearly two kilometres from the crater floor.

 This image shows details of the Sun’s chromosphere, a thin layer of the Sun’s atmosphere. It was taken through a filter which isolates red light emitted by very hot hydrogen gas. The chromosphere contains gas with temperatures of up to 20,000 degrees Celsius. Dense tubes of cooler gas can be seen as dark filaments across the disc of the Sun or bright red prominences emerging at its edge.

A perfectly timed photograph captures a silhouette of the International Space Station and docked space shuttle Endeavour as they passed in front of the Sun in less than half a second. Features of the Sun’s photosphere – or visible layer – can also be seen, including a grainy texture resulting from the bubbling motion of gas at 6000 degrees Celsius. A dark spot to the left of the ISS is a sun spot, containing cooler gas, which is caused by intense magnetic activity.

Deep Space Category
This category is for photos of anything beyond our Solar System, including stars, nebulae and galaxies.

 This intricate structure is the aftermath of a supernova explosion, the violent death of a star many times more massive than the Sun. It took place over 10,000 years ago.   Seen against stars and gas in the disc of our Milky Way , this expanding shell of debris and heated gas now covers an area of the sky which is twenty times wider than the disc of the full Moon.

Runner Up  
The Leo Triplet is a group of three spiral galaxies located thirty-five million light years away. Like our own Milky Way, they are disc-like galaxies. They contain billions of stars with bright knots of gas and dark dusty lanes, which trace spiral patterns where new stars are formed. The galaxy on the left is seen edge-on, as we view our own galaxy.

Highly Recommended
 Powerful emissions of light and matter from hot, young stars are able to heat up and shape the clouds of gas and dust from which they form. The ‘dragons’ in this photograph have been shaped by the recent birth of stars much bigger and brighter than our Sun. One such star can be seen to the lower left of the image within two shells of glowing gas.

 When viewed through a small telescope, planetary nebulae like Shapley 1 resemble nearby planets in our Solar System. They are, in fact, distant regions of hot, glowing gas ejected by stars as they run out of fuel at the end of their lives. The colours visible in the ring are caused by the temperature and chemical composition of the material this star has returned to its environment.

 This image places the bright stars of a familiar constellation within a skyscape of fainter stars, gas and dust, which is invisible to the naked eye. Orion the Hunter, one of the most prominent winter constellations in the northern hemisphere, is laid out from left to right in this photograph. A huge cloud of gas and dust in which new stars are forming lies below the three stars of Orion’s belt, while bright red and blue supergiant stars mark his armpit and foot.

Young Astronomy Photographer Category
This is the competition category for under-16s.

A lunar eclipse is a brief alignment of the Sun, Earth and Moon which places the Moon in the Earth’s shadow. Here the Moon is a red colour because it is lit by sunlight which has been filtered through the Earth’s atmosphere. The photograph skilfully captures a second fleeting astronomical event, the moment a star appears from behind the orbiting Moon.

Runner Up
Most stars, like the Sun, appear to move across the sky from east to west as the Earth spins on its axis every twenty-four hours. This long-exposure photograph captures the apparent motion of the stars that seem to circle the area in the sky over the Earth’s North Pole close to the Pole Star.

Highly Recommended
Like the Earth, one half of the Moon is always lit by the Sun. It is the relative positions of the Earth, Moon and Sun that determine how much of this illuminated side we see from the Earth. Here a crescent moon displays a sliver of the Moon’s sunny side. 

Features on the Moon are easiest to see close to the terminator, the boundary between the sunlit and dark sides. In this photograph the craters and rugged mountain ranges stand out in sharp relief close to the terminator. The smooth, dark areas are lunar maria or ‘seas’, filled with dark lava which solidified billions of years ago. 

People And Space Category
or photos that include people in a creative and original way.

In remote locations, dark skies make it is possible to see thousands of stars using just your eyes. When the sky is lite by the Sun, Moon or artificial lights on Earth, it blocks the view of all but the brightest stars..

Runner Up
A playful silhouette places an Earth-bound Moon-catcher in pursuit of the waxing crescent Moon in the early evening sky. The bright crescent is the part of the Moon lit directly by the Sun which is visible from Earth. The rest of the face of the Moon is also visible, although much fainter owing to reflected light from the Earth, known as earthshine.

Robotic Scope Category
for images that have been taken by robotic or remote telescopes and then processed by the entrant.

Shell Galaxies (NGC474 and NGC467)
In the upper left of this photograph, faint billowing shapes can be seen in the outer regions of an elliptical galaxy. Elliptical galaxies, which can contain up to a trillion stars, are typically smooth and shaped like a rugby ball. The delicate wispy sheets seen in this galaxy may result from its gravitational interaction with the nearby spiral galaxy to the right.


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