Turner Prize-winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans joins Astronomy Photographer of the Year judging panel

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Turner Prize-winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans joins Astronomy Photographer of the Year judging panel
Eclipse Totality over Sassendalen © Luc Jamet (France).

LONDON.- The Royal Observatory Greenwich, in association with Insight Investment and BBC Sky at Night Magazine, announces the dates for the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 competition – its annual global search for the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos, whether they are striking pictures of vast galaxies millions of light years away, or dramatic images of the night sky much closer to home.

Now in its eighth year, the hugely popular competition will open to entrants on Monday 29 February and sees an increase in prize money for all of the winners with the overall prize winner taking home £10,000. The competition also welcomes aboard two new judges in the shape of Turner Prize-winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans and the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Oana Sandu.

Turner Prize-winning artist, recent recipient of The Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography for 2015, and fine-art photographer, Wolfgang Tillmans joins the judging panel for the competition in 2016. From childhood Tillmans developed a passion for astronomy, which he says “was my visual initiation. Through astronomy I learned about the importance of careful observation and visual study.” Since 1995 astronomical subject matter is a recurring theme in his exhibitions and books, most notably the 'Venus transit' works of 2004 and 2012 as well as a group of photographs taken at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, which deal with the limits of visibility and digital sensors in astronomy. The combination of a poetic sensibility with a methodical observation of his surroundings that is so prevalent in Tillmans’s work is a quality that is shared with much contemporary astronomical photography, and exemplifies the merging of science and art that is at the heart of the competition. On being a judge on the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year panel for the first time, Tillmans said, “Astrophotography is a language and fascination which unites people across cultures and all ages and I’m excited to see this year's crop of images from around the world.”

Oana Sandu, Community Coordinator for ESO is the second new addition to the panel for 2016. In her role at ESO she is responsible for the promotion of ESO’s outreach products, including images, books, events and podcasts, and manages the social media for the organisation as well as for the Hubble Space Telescope on behalf of ESA (European Space Agency). Oana is a dedicated ambassador for astronomy, nurturing networks such as ESO’s Photo Ambassadors and co-chairing the 2016 Communicating Astronomy with the Public Conference, as a member of the International Astronomical Union. Of her newest role Oana has said, “I am honoured to be joining the high-calibre jury of the 2016 Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition and excited that the European Southern Observatory can contribute to this excellent initiative that has turned people’s eyes to the sky, encouraging them not only to appreciate and understand the beauty of the Universe we live in, but also to capture and share it with others.”

Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 has nine main categories:

- Skyscapes: Landscape and cityscape images of twilight and the night sky featuring the Milky Way, star trails, meteor showers, comets, conjunctions, constellation rises, halos and noctilucent clouds alongside elements of earthly scenery.

- Aurorae: Photographs featuring auroral activity.

- People and Space: Photographs of the night sky including people or a human interest element.

- Our Sun: Solar images including solar eclipses and transits.

- Our Moon: Lunar images including lunar eclipses and occultation of planets.

- Planets, Comets and Asteroids: Everything else in our solar system, including planets and their satellites, comets, asteroids and other forms of zodiacal debris.

- Stars and Nebulae: Deep space objects within the Milky Way galaxy, including stars, star clusters, supernova remnants, nebulae and other intergalactic phenomena.

- Galaxies: Deep space objects beyond the Milky Way galaxy, including galaxies, galaxy clusters, and stellar associations.

- Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Pictures taken by budding astronomers under the age of 16 years old.

There are also two special prizes: The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer is awarded to the best photo by an amateur astrophotographer who has taken up the hobby in the last year and who has not entered an image into the competition before, and Robotic Scope, acknowledges the best photo taken using one of the increasing number of computer-controlled telescopes at prime observing sites around the world which can be accessed over the internet by members of the public.

Entries to the competition must be submitted by 14 April 2016, and the winning images will be showcased in the annual free exhibition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich from 17 September 2016.

Photographers can enter online by visiting www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto and each entrant may submit up to five images to the competition.

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