Winner Announcement of the International Earth and Sky Photo Contest

2 April 2010


Full story and images:

The World at Night and Dark Skies Awareness organized the International Earth and Sky Photo Contest on Dark Skies Importance. Submissions were received during the second half of International year of Astronomy 2009. Submitted photographs were all taken during the year of astronomy and were all created in the “TWAN style” — showing both the Earth and the sky — by combining elements of the night sky set against the Earth horizon with backdrop of a notable location or landmark. This style of photography is called “landscape astrophotography”.

The contest was open to anyone of any age, anywhere around the world. About 200 entries received from over 30 countries including Algeria, Armenia, Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Croatia, France, Greece, Iceland, Indonesia, India, Iran, Italy, Macedonia, Nepal, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, and USA. Nearly 30% of the entries were from United States. Other major contributors were Romania, Iran, and Poland.

According to the contest theme of “Dark Skies Importance”, the submitted photos were judged in two categories: Beauty of Night Sky and Against the Lights. The selected images are best in impressing people on both how important and amazing the starry sky is and how it affects our lives, and also how bad the problem of light pollution has become. Today most city skies have become virtually empty of stars. Light pollution obscures the stars, interferes with astronomical observatories, and, like any other form of pollution, disrupts ecosystems and has adverse health effects.

The contest organizers wish to gratefully acknowledge the assistant of Oceanside Photo and Telescope (OPT) in supporting the contest with variety of prizes. Other contributing sponsors include CelestronMeadeExplore Scientific,StellarvueAstrodon, and Starlight Instruments. The contest was also supported by Sky&Telescope, a world’s leading astronomy magazine, with several gift subscriptions for the winners, and the University of Hawaii with technical support and server hosting for the contest submissions.

Connection with Global Astronomy Month: the winner announcement of the Earth and Sky Photo Contest in the beginning of April is related to the opening of world-wide activities coordinated by Astronomers Without Borders; for theGlobal Astronomy Month; a new annual program for world-wide astronomy community to share the beauties of night sky with people.

Contest Judging

The first selection and voting was made by TWAN world-wide photographers. The most voted photos were then considered by the contest judge team for 5 winners in each category of the contest. including:

  • David Malin (the most distinguished night sky photographer in the world, TWAN member and consultant).
  • Mike Simmons (President of Astronomers Without Borders and TWAN co-founder, contributing editor at Sky&Telescope magazine).
  • Connie Walker (Director of Dark Sky Awareness project and Globe at Night program, senior science education specialist at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory).
  • Richard Wainscoat (Photographer and astronomer at the University of Hawaii, the chair of International Astronomical Union Commission on Controlling Light Pollution).
  • Babak Tafreshi (Founder and director of TWAN, award winning night sky photographer, and board member of Astronomers Without Borders).

Contest Winners

The first winner of the contest and the highest voted by TWAN team is “Temple Night” by Chris Kotsiopoulos from Greece, presenting a panoramic view from the Poseidon temple in Cape Sounion of Greece with a starry sky in one direction and immense light pollution of Athens toward the other horizon. Placed in the contest category of Against the Lights, the photo won an Explore Scientific127mm refractor telescope and $150 certificate gift from OPT. As noted by David Malin “A powerful wide angle picture that meets all the criteria of the competition with style, technical skill and in an elegant composition.”

The first prize in the Beauty of Night Sky category is “Full Moon Rainbow” by Tony Rowell who receives a Celestron CG5computerized telescope mount. The photo is taken from the Yosemite Falls of California in a moonlit night. As noted by David Malin “It’s a strong, beautifully executed composition, blending a starry night sky, moonlight and a magnificent landscape in a most imaginative way.”

“Milky Way above Romania” by Cristina Tinta Vass is the second winner in the Against the Light category, receiving the prize of a 70mm ED Stellarvue refractor telescope and $150 gift certificate from OPT. As noted by Babak Tafreshi “The splendid Milky Way above the light dome of a city is very dramatic in this photo, showing the contrast between natural look of the sky and artificially light dominated cities.”

The second winner in the Beauty of Night Sky is “Light House and Stars” by Larry Andreasen, receiving the prize ofMeade LXD75 computerized telescope mount. The photo is taken from coast of Oregon in USA, framing a seaside starry night and strong rays from a light house. As noted by TWAN member John Goldsmith “It’s a surreal, mystical image”.

The other winners in the Against the Light category are:

3- “Observatory and Capital” by Mahdi Zamani who receives $300 gift certificate from OPT. The Iranian night sky photographer made this panoramic image from Byurakan Observatory near Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. The Moon sets in the right and lights of the nearby city dominate the southern view of the observatory. As noted by Babak Tafreshi “There are many leading observatories of the past decades which are now severely affected by lights from enlarging cities.”

4- “Lights of Los Angeles” by Ali Douraghy who receives $200 gift certificate from OPT and one year subscription to Sky&Telescope. The panoramic photo shows the lights of this metropolitan as seen from the Griffith Observatory. As noted by David Malin “What a spectacular waste of energy! And what a spectacle, all the way to Santa Catalina Island.”

5- “Lights vs .Stars” by Fredrik Broms who receives $130 gift certificate from OPT and one year subscription to Sky&Telescope. The image is taken near Kvaloya in Norway. As noted TWAN member Anthony Ayiomamitis “It’s good and evil. One photo that shows both dark skies and light polluted skies.”

The other winners in the Beauty of Night Sky category are:

3- “Stargazers” by Valentin Grigore who receives an Astrodon 1.25” H-alpha 5nm filter and one year subscription to Sky&Telescope. The photo is made during a public observing night above a hill overlooking Targoviste, a city in Romania. Moon and Venus are coupled in the evening sky. As noted by Mike Simmons “It’s a great composition of people and sky even though there aren’t many stars.”

4- “Pine Tree Startrails” by Miguel Claro who receives $200 gift certificate from OPT and one year subscription to Sky&Telescope. The photo is taken in a pine forest near the Atlantic coast of Portugal. The total exposure time of about 90 minutes of 90 minutes caused the colorful startrails.

5- “Starry Night of Croatia” by Vid Nikolic who receives $130 gift certificate from OPT and one year subscription to Sky&Telescope. The wide-angle photo is taken by a digital DSLR camera in black and white mode and shows the starry sky above Sjeverni Velebit National Park in Croatia.

All the winner photos are also prized to appear on The TWAN Guest Gallery. There are over 30 more photos which are positively voted by TWAN members and the judges. These are shown in this photo report and will appear on the Guest Gallery in future. The International Earth and Sky photo contest was the second contest in collaboration with The World at Night. The first contest was regionally organized in South America and India. TWAN plans for new international and regional contests in future. Contact us for more information.

Organisational Associates:

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is endorsed by the United Nations and the International Council of Science.