The 2015 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest

Submission was closed on April 22. The winners will be announced in June.

The on-line “Earth and Sky” photo contest is open for submission by any photography enthusiasts of any age from around the world. International projects The World at Night and Global Astronomy Month along with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory are the organizers of the Earth and Sky Photo Contest. The contest was founded by TWAN and Dark Skies Awareness project in 2008 as a regional program. It was expanded to an international effort in 2009 during the International Year of Astronomy. The contest news is usually broadcasted by major science and art news media world-wide and the winning images were widely promoted. With the growing impact of TWAN on both photography and astronomy communities along with the efforts of Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), the organization behind the Global Astronomy Month, the Earth and Sky Photo Contest will have an even larger feedback this year.

The contest entries should be fresh images, taken since January 1, 2014. They must be created in the “TWAN style” — showing both the Earth and the sky — by combining elements of the night sky (e.g., stars, planets, the Moon or celestial events) in the backdrop of a beautiful, historic, or notable location or landmark. This style of photography is called “landscape astrophotography”. This is within “Nightscape Photography” but with more attention to the sky, astronomical perspectives, and celestial phenomena.

The contest theme, “Dark Skies Importance,” has two categories: “Beauty of the Night Sky” and “Against the Lights.” Photos submitted to the contest should aim to address either category: either to impress people on how important and amazing the starry sky is or to impress people on how bad the problem of light pollution has become. Both categories illustrate how light pollution affects our lives. Photographers can submit images to one or both categories. The contest organizers encourage participants to view examples of such photos by the winners in the last few years: the 2014 winners, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. The winners of this year contest will be announced in late May 2015.

Contest Judges
David Malin (Widely considered the most distinguished night sky photographer in the world; TWAN member and consultant)
Jim Richardson (National Geographic photojournalist for about 30 years, recognized for his exploration of environmental issues and advocacy for the night sky)
Jerry Bonnell (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center scientist and the co-founder and editor of Astronomy Picture of the Day or APOD, one of the most visited and globally influential astronomy webpages)
Connie Walker (Director of the Globe at Night program; science education specialist at the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory)
Anthony Ayiomamitis (TWAN photographer in Greece)
Tunc Tezel (TWAN photographer in Turkey, one of the contest coordinators)
Laurent Laveder (TWAN photographer in France)
P-M Heden (TWAN photographer and coordinator in Sweden)
Babak Tafreshi (the founder and director of TWAN, and the contest chair)

Each year the contest is supported by major photography and astronomy equipment manufacturers for the grand prizes to 5 winners in each category (10 total). The 2015 prizes will be announced soon.


The contest submission has the same procedure as sending images to TWAN Guest Gallery. Simply email up to 5 images to and write “CONTEST 2015” in the email subject. Some of the notable and winner images will also appear in the Guest Gallery. Even if you have already send an image for publication in the Guest Gallery, you can submit it again to the same email for the contest. Please note in sending submissions to TWAN contest you are obliged to be the author and copyright owner of the image(s) submitted. Each entry must have the following details (copy and paste this list into your email, for each image):

– Submitted file name:
– Photographer’s web site:
– Photographer’s email address:
– May we link to your email address? (yes/no)
– Name(s) of the photographer(s):
– Suggested title for the photo:
– Date the photo was taken (year/month/day):
– Location and country where the photo was taken:
– Describe what appears in the photo and why it is a valuable contest entry:
– Web site(s) relating to the foreground subject:

Entries must comply with the following requirements.

1- Size and format:
– Only photographs in digital format may be submitted. Photographs taken using film must be digitized for submission.
– All entries must be accompanied by a short caption.
– Photographs must be submitted as high-quality JPEG files (level 10–12). The preferred color spaces are Adobe RGB (1998) and sRGB.
– Submitted photographs should be no larger than 2000 pixels across in their wide dimension and not smaller than 1200 pixels long (Extremely long panoramic images can be submitted up to 3000px long if necessary). File size should be no larger than about 2 Megabytes. Judges might request high-resolution or RAW files from finalists for final evaluation.

2- Number of submissions:
No more than 5 photographs may be submitted per person. If the contestant submits more images, only 5 of them will be randomly selected. Therefore extra submissions might result in removing your better images.

3- Date of Photographs and Submissions:
– The contest highlights the recent efforts of nightscape photography. Images must be taken since January 1, 2014. Photographs taken earlier are ineligible.
– Photographs must be submitted until the Earth Day, April 22, 2015. Winners will be announced in late May.

4- Style and subject of the photos:
– Entries must combine elements of both Earth and Night Sky i.e., landscape astrophotography.
– Entries must follow the contest theme of dark skies importance with displaying the beauties of starry skies or the problem of increasing light pollution.
– A pair or a series of comparing images to display the difference between dark and light polluted sky can be submitted as one entry. The comparing images can make strong public impression on importance of dark skies. See a TWAN example of such images here.
– Photographs may be taken through a telescope, but must combine Earth and Sky composed in the same photograph. Photographs taken through a telescope that show only the sky are ineligible.

5- Originality, image processing, and composite images:
– Minor burning, dodging, color and exposure correction is acceptable. Cropping is acceptable. Fish-eye lenses are acceptable. Stitched panoramas are acceptable only if the combined parts are taken at approximately the same time and with the same setting. Digital composition of a series of photographs taken successively at the same location with the same lens pointed in the same direction, for example to create a digital star trail image, is acceptable. Any other changes to the original photograph not mentioned here are not acceptable, and will render the submitted photo ineligible for a prize.
– Composite images made by combining images taken at different locations, different times, or using different lenses are ineligible.

6- Copyright and legal notes:
– The submitted photo must be the original work of the contest entrant. The entrant must be the copyright holder of the submitted photo.
– The Photographer retains complete copyright, but agrees to have his/her photograph published on TWAN website and on other online media in the reports about the contest.
– Model releases might be required for winning images that contain a person in the view.
– Submitted photographs must not contain provocative, defamatory, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable content.
You can contact us for any further inquiry related to the contest.


comments (0)

    Leave a comment