Winners of the Earth and Sky Regional Photo Contest

2008 December 11

Recently in collaboration with other organizations, TWAN organized the first Earth and Sky Regional Astrophotography Contest in two large and populated countries: Brazil and India. The contest was held to promote night sky photography.

Located in two opposite sides of the globe, night sky photographers from the two regions were brought together by Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), the organizational node of International Year of Astronomy 2009, and TWAN, the coordinating organization. Both organizations promote universal peace, friendship, and international collaborations through astronomy.

In Brazil, the contest was managed and executed mainly by Brazilian astronomer and science journalist Marcelo de Oliveira Souza, who is the South and Central America coordinator for AWB. Meanwhile the contest in India was managed by Manoj Paj, an experienced amateur astronomer and educator who is also the South Asia coordinator for AWB.

The Louis Cruls Astronomy Club in Brazil and the Ahmedabad Astronomy Club in India were the amateur astronomy groups that provided unstinted support to hold the contest. The Sky&Telescope magazine, the Dark Skies Awareness project of IYA2009, and the Campos dos Goytacazes in Brazil were other supporting organizations.

The contest announced five different categories for submitting night sky photos. Entries came from Brazil, India, Argentina, and Sri Lanka. And the winners were:

• Dark Skies (astrophotography that illustrates and compares light polluted and dark starry areas): Leopoldo Andrião Junior from Sao Paulo, Brazil, for an image of aurora taken from the suburbs of Fairbanks, Alaska. The view shows how stars and natural lights of sky fade in the artificial glow of city light. An image of 2004 total lunar eclipse over Rio de Janeiro received special mention in this category.
• Deep-Sky: José Carlos Diniz from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for an image of the star Antares and Rho Ophiucus colorful nebula, made with a digital SLR camera. An image of Rosette Nebula by Ajay Talwar (India) received special mention in this category.
• Wide Field (wide field and landscape astrophotos): José Carlos Diniz from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for a deep image of Orion constellation and the region’s rich collection of nebulae. The image of star trails above the Himalayas in North India by Ajay Talwar was selected for special mention under this category.
• Planetary (sun, moon, planets, and other solar system objects): Ajay Talwar from Delhi, India, for a telescopic mosaic image of the gibbous Moon.
• Special Events (comets, meteors, eclipses, transits, planetary conjunctions): Eduardo Alejandro Pulver from Rosario, Prov. de Santa Fe, Argentina, for a landscape image of Comet McNaught as seen in late January 2007.

Each photographer participant was allowed to submit entries in multiple categories but only up to five images per category. The judgment was made in two steps. A local committee made the first evaluation of the entries and selected top 15 images (three from each category). The selected images were then sent to the contest judges Mike Simmons, founder and president of AWB; Babak A. Tafreshi, founder and director of TWAN; Professor Ronaldo Rogério de Freitas Mourão, famous Brazilian astronomer and founder of the Museum of Astronomy with over 80 books on astronomy and astronautics; Connie Walker, science education specialist and director of Dark Sky Awareness project; and Krishnesh Mehta, member of National Institute of Design, India, who specializes in lighting design and has past experience of amateur astronomy.

The Sky&Telescope magazine has awarded winners in each category a one-year subscription of the magazine and a copy of their annual publication, Beautiful Universe. The 2009 edition of Beautiful Universe is an International Year of Astronomy special and includes a large section of TWAN images.

You can see the best landscape astrophotos of the contest in the Guest Gallery of TWAN website. All the winner and special mention photographs of the contest will be displayed at the TWAN exhibitions as well as at the 2nd Astronomy and Astronautics International Meeting which is scheduled in April 2009 near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

By the beginning of IYA2009, TWAN will announce the International Earth and Sky Photo Contest, a program in collaboration with Dark Sky Awareness project of IYA2009. The theme of this global contest will be: the importance of dark skies.


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