The Best Amateur Pictures Of Space This Year

The winners of the fourth UK Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition were announced yesterday -- and boy are there some gems amongst them. Organised by the Royal Observatory, the contest generates stiff competition, so it's no wonder that the overall winner -- pictured above -- is absolutely breathtaking.

It shows the M51 galaxy, which is often referred to as the Whirlpool because it's the archetypal spiral galaxy. It's been studied, sketched and photographed for centuries -- but photographer Martin Pugh managed to take advantage of exceptionally stable atmospheric conditions to capture one of the most clear images of it to date. It was named winner of the Deep Space category, and nabbed the overall title of best photograph too.

With a view closer to home, Masahiro Miyasaka's image of Orion, Taurus and the Pleiades as a backdrop to a frozen landscape, above, clinched victory in the Earth and Space category. The cool, blue light of the stars complements the Earthly chill beautifully -- but in reality those stars are a scorching 30,000C.

Finally, while Chris Warren's shot pictured above may not look much to the untrained eye, it is in fact quite remarkable. This atmnospheric image, winner of the Our Solar System category, shows off the recent transit of Venus in fine detail. Taken in London earlier this year, it's a rare photograph indeed -- and one that won't be repeated for another 105 years.

Images: The Royal Observatory

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    how the hell does an 'amateur' get a rig up that can capture deep space?!?!?

      There was a guy on reddit the other week answering questions about a $20 000 telescope he'd built in his backyard, it weighed about a ton and he had it set up on a big professional twin axis tracking mount. Pretty baller

        The second image would have been taken with nothing more than a DSLR, a tripod and a shutter release.

      I went to the Mudgee (NSW) Observatory last year and he acquired a rare prototype telescope from 20 years ago or so that was designed with an SLR attatchment. He said people quite regularly organise with him to hook up thier DSLR's . Because of how rare these things are and how expensive you'll have t sweet talk him, but he lets alot of uni students borrow it. next time i'm over there i'm going to take my dslr for sure :)

    get a t-mount adapter dude, they are very common

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