The 2012 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest on Dark Skies Importance

The Global Astronomy Month in April 2012 brings the 3rd International Earth and Sky Photo Contest. Coordinated by TWAN the contest is open to anyone of any age, anywhere around the world.




















Submission time ended on 2012 April 22. Winners will be announced in the early May.

From now through Earth Day, April 22, an on-line “Earth and Sky” photo contest is open for submission by any photography enthusiasts of any age from around the world. International projects The World at Night and Global Astronomy Month along with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory are the organizers of the Earth and Sky Photo Contest. The contest was founded by TWAN and Dark Skies Awareness project in 2008 as a regional program. It was expanded to an international effort in 2009 during the International Year of Astronomy. In 2011 participants from over 30 countries submitted a wonderful collection of nightscape images. The contest news was broadcasted by major science news media world-wide and the winning images were widely promoted this way. With the growing efforts of Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), the organization behind the Global Astronomy Month, the Earth and Sky Photo Contest will have an even larger feedback this year.

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) in the backdrop of a beautiful, historic, or notable location or landmark. This style of photography is called “landscape astrophotography''. This is similar to general "Nightscape Photography" but with more attention to the sky, astronomical perspectives, and celestial phenomena.

The contest theme, “Dark Skies Importance,” has two categories: “Beauty of the Night Sky” and “Against the Lights.” Photos submitted to the contest should aim to address either category: either to impress people on how important and amazing the starry sky is or to impress people on how bad the problem of light pollution has become. Both categories illustrate how light pollution affects our lives. Photographers can submit images to one or both categories. The contest organizers encourage participants to view examples of such photos by the winners in the previous years: the 2011 winners, the 2010 winners, and other notable photos of 2010.
Winners this year will be announced in the first week of May.

Contest Judging
The judging panel for the 3rd Earth and Sky Photo Contest includes:
- David Malin (Widely considered the most distinguished night sky photographer in the world; TWAN member and consultant.)
- Connie Walker (Director of the Globe at Night program; science education specialist at the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory.)
- Wally Pacholka (widely accomplished TWAN member in the United States)
- Tunc Tezel (TWAN member in Turkey, and one of the contest main coordinators)
- Thad VSoske (TWAN member and the Guest Gallery coordinator; dedicated timelapse photographer)
- Richard Wainscoat (Photographer and astronomer at the University of Hawaii; chair of the International Astronomical Union’s Commission on Controlling Light Pollution)
- Babak Tafreshi (Founder and director of TWAN; award-winning photographer; board member of Astronomers Without Borders)

A wide range of prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in both categories will be awarded. The prizes include (as last years) camera mounts, telescopes, binoculars, astrophotography accessories, filters and gift certificates. The contest is supported by:

Vixen Co. ,Ltd

Oceanside Photo & Telescope (OPT)

Sky&Telescope Magazine

Canadian Telescopes

Dubai Telescope

Three of the main prizes for the 2012 contest are these excellent products for astrophotographers:

- A complete set of Polarie Star Tracker (a value of over $900) provided by Vixen, including the body (tracking mount), the special tripod and ball head, and the polar scope. Vixen Polarie, with a hand-sized body, is the most compact star tracker at this accuracy. With an elegant and user friendly design the tracker allows you to capture nightscapes or deep sky photos using just a camera and a lens.

- Astrotrac TT320X AG Tracking Mount (a value of about $600) provided by Oceanside Photo and Telescope (OPT). This latest model of Astrotrac also works with AutoGuiders in order to reach much longer exposures of deep sky. Astrotrac is another lightweight equatorial mount that attaches to any heavy-duty camera tripod.

- A 102mm (4'') refracting telescope tube by Canadian Telescopes (a value of $500). This air spaced doublet refractor with focal length of 1100mm 
has reduced color aberration for excellent views of night sky.

Each of the contest supporters also provided other prizes and gift certificates for different winner places.
The contest was also kindly supported by the University of Hawaii with technical support and server hosting for the contest submissions (special thanks to Mr. Narayan S. Raja at the University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy).

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 2000 pixels across in their wide dimension and not smaller than 1200 pixels long (Extremely long panoramic images can be submitted up to 3000px long if necessary). File size should be no larger than about 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:
- The contest highlights the recent efforts of landscape astrophotogtraphy. Images must be taken since January 1, 2011. Photographs taken before January 1, 2011 are ineligible.
- Photographs must be submitted from April 1 to the Earth Day, April 22, 2012. Winners will be announced by April 30, 2012.

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 on other online media together with the report about the contest results.
- 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 later this month. You can contact us for any further inquiry related to the contest.

Submission time ended on 2012 April 22.


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