Ethereal beauty: Milky Way photographer of the year 2023

ethereal-beauty:-milky-way-photographer-of-the-year-2023
  • The Scenery I Wanted to See – Japan

    ‘Mount Fuji, Japan’s iconic symbol, dominates the backdrop of this image, set during cherry blossom season. Amid the landscape, you can see a sacred temple dedicated to honouring the spirits of the departed. And there, against the dark canvas of the night sky, the ethereal beauty of the Milky Way came into view.’

    Mount Fuji during cherry blossom season
  • The La Palma Astroexperience – Spain

    ‘La Palma and the Canary Islands are ideal for astrophotography due to the trade wind clouds that sit at around 1,000 meters. Being above these clouds makes it clear enough for capturing images, provided there is no haze or high cirrus clouds. On the first night of the trip, I was exhausted from a long journey and no sleep, but I couldn’t resist going out to capture the clear sky, as it was the first time I’ve experienced this much cloud cover.’

    La Palma from above the clouds at night
  • South of Home – Namibia

    ‘The panoramic photograph captures the breathtaking scene in the Gross Spitzkoppe Nature Reserve, where the southern Milky Way gracefully spans a remarkable formation of smooth granite boulders. This area holds a unique charm, with Mount Spitzkoppe being the sole prominent feature for kilometers, majestically rising 700 meters above the endless savannah.’

    The arc of the Milky Way hangs above boulders
  • The Cathedral Light Show – Spain

    ‘This was definitely the best moment I’ve ever had during a nighttime session; this only happens once in a lifetime. It was the first and only time I saw such a bright meteor. It lit up everything around it, making it seem like daytime for a few seconds. Luckily, at the moment it appeared, I was photographing the core of the Milky Way. The photo also includes this particular mountain in the background that resembles a cathedral.’

    A close-up of red flowers with dramatic rock in the distance, above the night sky
  • The Cactus Valley – Chile

    ‘It was my first trip photographing the Milky Way in the southern hemisphere. I chose the Atacama desert, one of the coolest and most mind-blowing places on the planet to experience the night sky. Some of the spots I was really excited about capturing in my photos were the Gum Nebula and the Magellanic Clouds. This photo was taken in the Cactus valley, a stunning area of the Atacama desert where it’s easy to compose photos with the night sky. I managed to include both nebulae, along with the iconic cacti of the valley.’

    Cacti sit underneath a green and red sky
  • Milky Way Over Cuenca’s Hoodoos – Spain

    ‘Witnessing the arc of the Milky Way is an absolutely awe-inspiring experience. Some of Spain’s darkest skies can be found in the Serranía de Cuenca, an area of remarkable geological beauty. In the southern region lies a place where water has carved the landscape, creating intriguing formations and limestone chimneys. I scouted for a pleasing composition during the day, and this is the result of a long night spent under millions of stars.’

    The Milky Way over Cuenca’s Hoodoo’s
  • Cafayate Star Factory – Argentina

    ‘As soon as the first stars appeared, with some light still shining on the landscape, I took the images for the foreground. When it was completely dark, I shot the vertical photos of the sky. You can see the rock formations and ‘windows’ of this area of Cafayate desert known as Las Ventanas (The Windows) and the small cacti that are the only vegetation here. I was able to capture the reddish colours of the nebulae and more details in the night sky thanks to the combination of a star tracker and an astro-modified camera.’

    The Cafayate desert sits below the arc of the Milky Way and a blue-green sky
  • Gigi Hiu Shining in the Dark – Indonesia

    ‘The sharp-looking rocks on this beach make this piece of shoreline one of the most unique in the world. Water has shaped these rocks for millions of years.Gigi Hiu beach is located in a rural area, south of Sumatra Island. I think this beach is one of the most visited places when photographers around the world come to Indonesia to find a dark zone for night shooting. There is no light pollution here.’

    Gigi Hiu beach shot at night
  • Milky Way Rising Over Stony River Mount Taranaki –New Zealand

    ‘I’m really pleased with how many colours I was able to capture with my camera, filters, and long exposures. Rho Ophiuchi in Scorpius looks really good with its pink, yellow, and blue colours, along with the Zeta Ophiuchi Nebula (the pinkish nebula to the lower left of the image came out well too). On the lower right of the image, there’s some nice airglow, which adds to the beauty and uniqueness of the sky that night.’

    The Milky Way rises over Mount Taranaki
  • Lut Glow – Iran

    ‘This is a rock formation in the Lut desert in Iran under the Milky Way. We spent the whole night, from sunset to sunrise, taking photos of that incredible sky. I was able to capture a green airglow under the Milky Way, behind the impressive rock formations in the warmest place on Earth.’

    A green sky sits behind the rock of the Lut desert
  • The Eyes of the Universe – Bulgaria

    ‘I’ve always wondered what the night sky would look like if we could see the two Milky Way arches from the winter and summer side by side. This is impossible, since they are part of a whole and are visible at different times of the day. This 360-degree time-blended panorama shows us what they would look like. The winter arch is primarily associated with the constellation Orion. The summer arch features the Milky Way core, which is the most characteristic and luminous part of the night sky, representing the centre of our galaxy.’

    A blended panaroma shows the Milky Way's arches
  • Night Under the Baobab Trees – Madagascar

    ‘Here you see the complete Milky Way arc over the imposing baobabs. This photo means a lot to me, and I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult it was to take it. From the road conditions to the armed security guards protecting you while you take photos, everything about it was an adventure.’

    The Milky Way's arc sits over baobab trees
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    Ethereal beauty: Milky Way photographer of the year 2023

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