The striking winning images of the 2023 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition revealed
12:28 PM EDT, Sat September 16, 2023
A team of amateur astronomers led by Marcel Drechsler, Xavier Strottner and Yann Sainty made a surprising discovery to win the overall prize in the 2023 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. "Andromeda, Unexpected" shows a huge plasma arc next to the Andromeda Galaxy, the closest large spiral galaxy to our Milky Way.
Marcel Drechsler/Xavier Strottner/Yann Sainty
Monika Deviat's image of an abstract aurora in the shape of a brushstroke topped the Aurorae category. "We are accustomed to seeing aurora from an earthly perspective with mountains, trees and humanmade structures framing the dancing lights. This photograph offers something different, showcasing the beauty of the aurora in isolation," said judge Katherine Gazzard.
Ethan Chappel won in the Our Moon category for capturing in detail the moon passing in front of Mars on December 8, 2022. Judge Steve Marsh described the occultation as "one of the last and greatest celestial events of 2022."
Astronomy Photographer of the Year
Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau's photograph of the sun with a huge solar filament in the shape of a question mark won in the Our Sun category. "If you zoom into the surface of the Sun, the image has a paint-like quality—I feel like I can see the brush strokes," said judge Sheila Kanani.
Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau
Vikas Chander's photograph of star trails poking through the gray sky above a ship stranded in the treacherous, most northern part of Namibia's Atlantic-facing coast on August 25, 2008, prevailed in the People & Space category.
Tom Williams topped the Planets, Comets & Asteroids category for photographing a unique view of Venus using infrared or ultraviolet false color. "Capturing these atmospheric details from the sunlit side of the planet when it is so far from Earth is a remarkable achievement," said judge László Francsics.
Angel An won in the Skyscapes category for snapping the extremely rare phenomenon of Sprites—or red lightning—in which atmospheric luminescence appears like fireworks. "It creates an unsettling, alien image that can't help but draw your eye," said judge Ed Bloomer.
A team of amateur astronomers, led by Marcel Drechsler from Germany and Xavier Strottner from France, made a significant contribution to the study of the evolution of binary star systems. They captured a pair of stars surrounded by a common envelope in a previously unknown galactic nebula.
The Sh2-132 complex lies near the border of the Cepheus and Lacerta constellations and contains multiple deep sky structures. Aaron Wilhelm's winning photograph in the Best Newcomer category includes 70 hours of data and shows the rich interplay of all the gases.
The Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year was awarded to two 14-year-old boys from China—Runwei Xu and Binyu Wang—who captured the vibrant colors of the Running Chicken Nebula. The giant cloud of dust and gas is nicknamed that because it looks like a giant chicken running across the sky, according to NASA.
Runwei Xu/Binyu Wang
John White claimed the Innovation prize for capturing the sound of a black hole at the center of the Perseus Galaxy using audio source material from NASA's Chandra Sonification Project and playing it through speakers with a petri dish attached to them. "Here, we are shown an interesting and playful visualisation of astronomical data that we could not 'see' by ourselves nor 'hear'. This is an image of a sound generated by a source that is invisible. Stark, beautiful, rather weird, and certainly innovative!" said judge Ed Bloomer.