Yesterday, commenter Cathy White reminded me that the Greenwich Royal Observatory has announced the winners of its 2012 astrophotography competition. That needs to be brought out of the comment section and into its own post, because these shots are gorgeous.
I happened to be in the Observatory last year and saw the 2011 winners on display. Each was accompanied by a short video interview with the photographer, who talked about how she or he became interested in astronomy, how the shot happened, and what its context was. The stories gave the photos so much depth…as if they weren’t amazing enough as it was.
The above photo of the M51 Whirlpool Galaxy, by Martin Pugh, won the Deep Space category. Other categories include Earth and Space, Our Solar System, and Young Astronomy Photographer. Each category awards a winner, a runner-up, and one or more “highly commended” photos, and they are all worth your eyeball time.
You can start your tour of the winning photos here. There is also a collection of all contest entries on Flickr. That one is a bit daunting, though — there are 8,937 photos in it, which says a lot about the enduring appeal of the night sky. Modern life may try to crowd it out, but some of us will always be looking upward.