Global Perspectives on a Comet

Seven photographers from around the globe received awards for their stunning images of comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) at the Northeast Astronomy Forum held at Rockland Community College today.

The National Science Foundation’s Division of Astronomical Sciences, Astronomy magazine, and Discover magazine co-sponsored the photo contest with three categories for entry: 1) Cameras and tripods without the use of tracking or telescopes; 2) Piggyback cameras riding atop a telescope or motorized mount; 3) Through-the-scope images where the telescope acts as the camera’s lens.

“ISON was one of the brightest comets in decades, and millions were captivated last November as this sun-grazing comet flew dangerously close to the sun’s surface,” said Maria Womack, an NSF astronomy division program director. “It was so exciting to cheer with so many others in the world as the comet made its first trip to the inner solar system, which, sadly, it did not survive.

“Capturing an event like Comet ISON is even more of an achievement, because it was so close to the sun and visible to the naked eye for such a short time. Photographers like those who did so well in our contest, make sure the rest of us don’t miss these special occasions. The pictures are impressive and ethereal–and truly captured the comet’s last gasp.”

In fact, Comet ISON deteriorated to almost nothing after the point at which it was closest to the sun, so virtually all submissions were of images prior to that point.

Final judges for the contest included Ann Druyan, an author, Cosmos producer and widow of the late Carl Sagan; Daphne and Tony Hallas, two world renowned astro-photographers; Jon Lomberg, an American space artist and science journalist; and David Malin, a British-Australian astronomer and photographer.

First prizes yielded $2,500; second prizes, $1,000. In addition to the six prize winners, NSF website visitors chose an additional “People’s Choice” award worth $1,500. Winners will be featured in Astronomy magazine’s June issue.

Winners are as follows:

People’s Choice award winner: Eric Cardoso, Setúbal, Portugal, “Comet ISON” Credit: Eric Cardoso
1st place Through the Scope: Damian Peach, Hampshire, U.K., “Broom Star” Credit: Damian Peach
2nd place Through the Scope: Gerald Rhemann, Vienna, Austria, “Comet C/2012 S1 ISON” Credit: Gerald Rhemann
1st place Cameras and Tripods: Atish Aman, Delhi, India, “Comet ISON over Pokhara City, Nepal” Credit: Atish Aman
2nd place Cameras and Tripods: Barry Burgess, Nova Scotia, Canada, “Comet ISON, Port Medway, Nova Scotia” Credit: Barry Burgess
1st place Piggyback Cameras: John Chumack, Ohio, USA, “Comet ISON Gossamer Tail & Disconnection Event” Credit: John Chumack
2nd place Piggyback Cameras: Gaeul Song, Korea, “Mercury and ISON” Credit: Gaeul Song

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