International Earth and Sky Photo Contest on Dark Skies Importance

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 photography contest is open to anyone of any age, anywhere around the world.




















Submission time ended on 2009 December 31. The winners are announced.
See other notable photos in the contest.

Two global projects of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, The World at Night and Dark Skies Awareness have together organized the International Earth and Sky Photo Contest. Submitted photographs must be created in the "TWAN style" -- showing both the Earth and the sky -- by combining elements of the night sky (e.g., stars, planets, the Moon or celestial events) set against the backdrop of a beautiful, historic, or notable location or landmark. This style of photography is called “landscape astrophotography”.

The contest theme is “Dark Skies Importance”, so images should attempt to impress upon people how important and amazing the starry sky is, how it affects our lives, and how bad the problem of light pollution has become. The contest organizers encourage participants to view examples of such photos in the TWAN galleries. A special photo gallery entitled “Dark Skies Importance” is can be viewed on TWAN website. Educational articles and tips on night sky photography are also available from TWAN online in the Education section.

A wide range of prizes will be awarded, including telescope and camera mounts, telescopes, astrophotography accessories and gift certificates. The following list of prizes continues to grow so check back here for updates.
The contest organizers wish to gratefully acknowledge the assistant of Oceanside Photo and Telescope (OPT) in obtaining these prizes.

Donor Item Value
Celestron CG5GT mount $599
Meade LXD75 Go-to mount $599
Stellarvue Raptor 70ED refractor telescope $449
Starlight Instruments FeatherTouch focuser for Stellarvue telescope $259
Explore Scientific 127mm Achromatic refractor telescope $599
Astrodon 1.25” H-alpha 5nm filter $275
OPT Gift certificates $1000

Each entry must comply with the following requirements.

1- Size and format :
- Only photographs in digital format may be submitted. Photographs taken using film must be digitized for submission. Scanned prints may also be submitted.
- All entries must be accompanied by a short caption.
- Photographs must be submitted as high-quality JPEG files (level 10–12). The preferred color spaces are Adobe RGB (1998) and sRGB IEC61966-2.1. Contestants are strongly encouraged to use color management and to use one of these color spaces for their submitted images.
- Submitted photographs should be no larger than 1600 pixels across in their wide dimension and not smaller than 1200 pixels long. File size should be no larger than 2 Megabytes. Judges might request high-resolution files from finalists for final evaluation.

2- Number of submissions :
- No more than 5 photographs may be submitted per person. If the contestant submits more images, only 5 of them will be randomly selected. So extra submissions might result in removing your better images.
- Each contestant will be registered through the submission page and can edit profile and content, and add or remove their submitted images until the contest deadline.

3- Date of Photographs and Submissions :
- Photographs must be taken during 2009, the International Year of Astronomy. Photographs taken before January 1, 2009 are ineligible.
- Photographs must be submitted by the end of the year on December 31, 2009. Winners will be announced in January 2010.

4- Style and subject of the photos :
- Entries must combine elements of both Earth and Night Sky—i.e., landscape astrophotography.
- Entries must follow the contest theme of dark skies importance with displaying the beauties of starry skies or the problem of increasing light pollution.
- A pair or a series of comparing images to display the difference between dark and light polluted sky can be submitted as one entry. The comparing images can make strong public impression on importance of dark skies. See a TWAN example of such images here.
- Photographs may be taken through a telescope, but must combine Earth and Sky composed in the same photograph. Photographs taken through a telescope that show only the sky are ineligible.

5- Originality, image processing, and composite images :
- Minor burning, dodging, color and exposure correction is acceptable. Cropping is acceptable. Fish-eye lenses are acceptable. High dynamic range images and stitched panoramas are acceptable only if the combined parts are taken at approximately the same time and with the same setting. Digital composition of a series of photographs taken successively at the same location with the same lens pointed in the same direction, for example to create a digital star trail image, is acceptable. Any other changes to the original photograph not mentioned here are not acceptable, and will render the submitted photo ineligible for a prize.
- Composite images made by combining images taken at different locations, different times, or using different lenses are ineligible.

6- Copyright and legal notes :
- The submitted photo must be the original work of the contest entrant. The entrant must be the copyright holder of the submitted photo.
- The Photographer retains complete copyright, but agrees to have his/her photograph published on TWAN website and related IYA websites, and other non-commercial IYA publications, including IYA-related exhibits of landscape astrophotography with no compensation.
- Model releases will be required for all winning photographs that contain a person in the image.
- Submitted photographs must not contain provocative, defamatory, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable content.

Entries may only be submitted on-line. Submitted photographs will be judged by a panel of TWAN photographers based on creativity, relevance to the topic, and aesthetic beauty. Contest prizes will be announced in Fall 2009. You can contact us for any further enquiry related to the contest.

Submit Your Images


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