A rare photograph of a comet that will never be seen again from Earth has won a prestigious photography award.
The image shows a piece of comet Leonard’s tail breaking apart and being carried away by the solar wind.
- NASA finds sign of possible ancient microbial life on Mars
- USP researchers win IgNobel 2022 with research on aspects of sex between scorpions
The comet made a brief appearance near Earth after being discovered in 2021, but has now left our Solar System.
The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, holds the Astronomy Photo of the Year competition and called the image “astonishing”.
The images will be part of an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in London, starting on Saturday (17/9).
“Comets look different from hour to hour — these are very surprising things,” explained winning photographer Gerald Rhemann of Vienna, Austria.
The photo was taken on December 25, 2021 from an observatory in Namibia, which is home to some of the darkest skies in the world.
Rhemann had no idea that the comet’s tail would disconnect, leaving a trail of shimmering dust behind.
“I was absolutely delighted to take the picture. It’s the highlight of my career as a photographer,” he told BBC News.
Astronomer Ed Bloomer, who was one of the competition’s judges, said the image is one of the best photographs of comets in history.
“Perfect astrophotography is a collision of science and the arts. Not only is the winning photo technically sophisticated and projects the viewer into deep dark space, it is also visually captivating and emotive,” said Hannah Lyons, art assistant at the Royal Museums of Greenwich to BBC News.
The judges analyzed more than 3,000 entries from around the world.
Andromeda Galaxy – Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year Award Winner — Photo: YANG HANWEN, ZHOU ZEZHEN/BBC
For the winning image in the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year category, Chinese Yang Hanwen and Zhou Zezhen, both 14 years old, worked together to photograph Andromeda, one of the Milky Way’s closest neighboring galaxies.
The image shows the striking colors of a galaxy that is close to us. “I think this photo shows how beautiful our nearest neighbor is,” Hanwen said.
The Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year category includes only competitors under the age of 16.
Lyons said she was “blown away” by the quality of the young photographers, “who produced the most remarkable images”.
The winning and highly praised images
“In the Embrace of a Green Lady’ – Winner in the Aurora category — Photo: FILIP HREBENDA/BBC
This image by Slovak photographer Filip Hrebenda shows the northern lights reflected in an ice-cold lake in Iceland near the Eystrahorn mountain.
‘Mineral Mosaic of the Moon’ – Highly Praised in the Young Astronomy Photographer category — Photo: PETER SZABO/BBC
Peter Szabo received an honorable mention in the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year category for this photograph of the Moon, which he took in Debrecen, Hungary.
The image uses high-quality processing to show the surface of the Moon in incredible detail, revealing a view that is familiar to most people, but in an extraordinary way.
‘The Center of the Heart Nebula’ – Honorable Mention in the Stars and Nebulae category — Photo: PÉTER FELTÓTI/BBC
Péter Feltóti captured this image of Hungary. IC 1805 is an area that harbors huge amounts of ionized gas and interstellar dust. A strong stellar wind blows the surrounding material outward, creating a hollow, cave-like shape in a cloud of gas.
“It’s very difficult to capture dark nebulae with any kind of clarity,” explained Ed Bloomer.
This astrophotography is important, he added, because it reveals features of the cosmos that the human eye cannot see just by looking at the night sky.
‘The Eye of God’ – Winner in the Stars and Nebulae category — Photo: WEITANG LIANG/BBC
Weitang Liang took this photo of the Helix Nebula in Rio Hurtado, Chile.
“It’s easy to see how the ancients used to watch the stars in the sky and imagine that the cosmos was watching us, keeping a close eye on us,” interpreted Judge Imad Ahmed.
‘Arvore Solar Tree’ – Winner of the Annie Maunder Award in the Digital Innovation category — Photo: PAULINE WOOLLEY/BBC
This image by Pauline Woolley combines photos taken by large telescopes and won the innovation award.
It shows how the sun changes over time using the tree ring dating idea.
‘The Milky Way Bridge’ – Winner of the Sir Patrick Moore Award in the Best Newcomer category — Photo: LUN DENG/BBC
Using a regular camera, Lun Deng captured this image of the Milky Way as he climbed Minya Konka Mountain, the highest peak in Sichuan, China.
All images are subject to copyright.