Is the universe looking at us or are we looking at the universe?
Anyway, it feels like this smiley in space is trying to tell us something.
These are just a few of the things that might come to mind after seeing the outstanding photographs for this year’s Astronomical Photographer of the Year competition.
The competition has been taking place for 13 years from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, which was founded in 1675 and has been at the center of several historical milestones in the measurement of time and space, per New Atlas.
There were 4,500 entries this year, with technically brilliant photos of distant galaxies. This smiley was awarded “Highly Recommended” after taking 27.5 hours of total exposure to be successful.
This year’s best photograph is of a solar eclipse taken in Tibet in mid-2020 by Shuchang Dong.
It’s impressive to be deceptively simple:
“This image demonstrates both the beauty and simplicity of an eclipse, but also the science behind this astronomical event,” said Emily Darbek-Maunder, one of this year’s judges.
Here is “The Golden Ring”:
Chinese photographer Zhong Wu’s 360-degree mosaic of the Milky Way is an image that wows people’s minds.
It took Wu two years to reconstruct the image from 1,000 separate snapshots taken in the southern and northern hemispheres.
Judge Imad Ahmed said it was one of the most breathtaking entries of this year:
In the Aurora category, Dmitrii Rybalka’s haunting shot from a moving ship approaching the Kara Strait in Russia took first place.
Judge Sue Prichard said the image reminded them of an opening scene from a sci-fi movie:
The Sun was also a strong contender, featured in two very different winning photos by separate photographers.
There is that of Vincent Bouchama, whose image of the sun “sharing its crown with a comet” was a finalist:
It’s quite different from Alan Friedman’s, which shows a curtain of hydrogen bursting from the surface of the sun.
He was awarded the status of highly regarded:
The winner of the Planets, Comets, Asteroids category was Frank Kuszaj for his photo of a colorful Quadrantids meteor taken in Missouri, America:
No idea what’s going on there, but I can’t stop watching.
Then there is this dreamy photo of a sky by Jin Yang, titled “Van Gogh’s Sketchbook” and taken in Yunnan Province, China.
He was awarded the highly commended status:
Another highlight came from the Stars and Nebulae category with “The Color Splash Of Cygnus Loop” by Min Xie:
For other spectacular shots of space, head over here.
And if you go up, you might as well go down and walk the winning photos of the Ocean Photography Awards.[source:newatlas]