Chinese photographer Yu Jun has beaten thousands of amateur and professional photographers to become the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016.
As well as securing the £10,000 top prize, his image takes pride of place in the exhibition of winning photographs opening at the Royal Observatory Greenwich on September 17.
The judges were captivated by Jun’s unusual image illustrating the phenomenon of Baily’s Beads of the total solar eclipse on March 9 this year from Luwuk, Indonesia.
Made up of several stacked images, the camera reveals what is usually hidden to the naked eye, stretching out the movements of the Moon across the face of the Sun.
Competition judge and Royal Observatory Public Astronomer, Dr Marek Kukula said: “This is such a visually striking image, with its succession of fiery arcs all perfectly balanced around the pitch black circle of totality.
“It’s even more impressive when you realise what it shows: the progress of a solar eclipse, all compressed into a single frame. A tremendous achievement that pushes the boundaries of what modern astrophotography can achieve.”
Other commended images and special prizes include
- The scene of a Maasai warrior bestowing his knowledge of the stars on his son as they gaze up at the Milky Way by Robin Stuart (Kenya).
- The pop art inspired canvas of the rainbow of colours exhibited by the brightest star in our sky, Sirius, taken by Steve Brown (UK).
- Comet Catalina hurtling through the night sky, leaving a dust trail in its wake, while a second tail of ionised gas emanates from its coma, shot by Gerald Rhemann (Austria).
- An astonishing capture of the Milky Way’s satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, showcasing stars of all ages lying within its 14,000 lightyear diameter, from the camera of Carlos Fairbairn (Brazil), winning him the Sir Patrick Moore prize for Best Newcomer.
- Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year Brendan Devine, 15, (USA) took home the top prize for his innovative image of the Moon, which he inverted to bring out the intricate details of the rugged, lunar landscape that we often miss in more traditional shots.
BBC Sky at Night Magazine’s editor Chris Bramley, who is a judge for the competition, said of this year’s contest: “There were so many fantastic images this year. The winning entries, and indeed the whole field, show that the entrants’ technical abilities and creative eye have never been sharper. They capture the quiet, majestic beauty of the night sky above a world that’s increasingly frenetic and light-polluted.”
Now in its eighth year, the competition received a record number of more than 4,500 entries from over 80 countries.
The best of these exceptional photographs – winners, runners-up or highly commended in the competition’s different categories and special prizes – are showcased in a free exhibition in the Royal Observatory’s Astronomy Centre which is open to the public from September 17, 2016, until June 28, 2017.