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Astronomy Photographer of the Year Captures Rare, Dazzling Comet Photo

"I could stare at this image all day," said one contest judge.

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Gael Cooper
2 min read

Gerald Rhemann of Austria has won the 2022 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, for his astonishing and rare photograph of a piece of Comet Leonard's gas tail being disconnected and carried away by the solar wind. 

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Gerald Rhemann won the competition with this photo of Comet Leonard.

Disconnection Event © Gerald Rhemann

He took the winning photograph on Christmas Day 2021 in Namibia.    

The winners in the contest, run by The Royal Observatory Greenwich in the UK and supported by Liberty Specialty Markets and in association with BBC Sky at Night Magazine, were announced Thursday.

 'This award is one of the highlights of my astrophotography work," Rhemann said in a statement. "All the effort that went into making this image a success was worth it.'  

The discovery of Comet Leonard, a long period comet identified by G.J. Leonard on January 2021, was one of the astronomical highlights of that year. Almost a quarter of submissions to the Planets, Comets and Asteroids category of the competition focused on Comet Leonard.

"The stars in the background give the comet's tail a magical appearance," judge Melissa Brobby said of the winning photograph. "I could stare at this image all day." 

Yang Hanwen and Zhou Zezhen, two 14-year-old boys from China, shared the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year award for their collaboration on Andromeda Galaxy: The Neighbor, which reveals the vibrant colors of the nearby galaxy.

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This image won two 14-year-old boys the shared title of Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year.

Andromeda Galazy: The Neighbor © Yang Hanwen and Zhou Zezhen

"I think this photo shows how gorgeous our nearest neighbor is," said Yang Hanwen. 

There were more than 3,000 entries from both amateur and professional photographers in 67 different countries. It's the 14th year of the contest. Finalists include images of the harvest moon rising behind Glastonbury Tor in the UK, the lights of the Milky Way mirrored by the highest national highway in the world in Tibet, one of the most detailed amateur-produced maps of the lunar south pole, a partial solar eclipse over Italy, and the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy captured in Australia 270 years after its discovery.

The winning images will be displayed at Britain's National Maritime Museum and showcased in a book. Take a look at them below.

Astronomy Photo Contest Winners, Finalists Take Your Breath Away

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