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Milky Way image tops Greenwich's global astronomic photography competition

PUBLISHED: 17:21 17 September 2010

EARTH & SPACE WINNER AND OVERALL ASTRONOMY PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR WINNER: Blazing Bristlecone by Tom Lowe. White Mountains, California, August 14, 2009. An ancient Bristlecone Pine stands before the Milky Way as a meteor streaks the sky. The lighting effect on the tree in the foreground was actually caused by accident when the photographer was setting his equipment up.

EARTH & SPACE WINNER AND OVERALL ASTRONOMY PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR WINNER: Blazing Bristlecone by Tom Lowe. White Mountains, California, August 14, 2009. An ancient Bristlecone Pine stands before the Milky Way as a meteor streaks the sky. The lighting effect on the tree in the foreground was actually caused by accident when the photographer was setting his equipment up.

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An American photographer who captured a star-riddled Milky Way has beaten thousands of others from around the glove to win the title of Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2010.

PEOPLE & SPACE Winner: Photon Worshippers by Steve Christenson, December 23, 2009. For a few weeks every year the setting sun is in the correct position to shine directly through this portal in a large rock formation at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, California.

Tom Lowe has won the £1,000 and his photograph takes pride of place in an exhibition at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, which opened last Friday (10) and runs until Sunday, February 27.

The winning shot called Blazing Bristlecone, depicts the star-riddled Milky Way arching over an ancient bristlecone pine tree, in the Sierra Nevada - thought to be one of the oldest living trees in the world having clocked up more than 4,000 years.

Competition judge and ROG Public Astronomer, Dr Marek Kukula said: “This beautiful picture perfectly combines the awe-inspiring vista of the night sky with life here on Earth.

“The bristlecone pines may be old but they are babies compared to the starlight shining behind them, some of which began its journey towards us almost 30,000 years ago.”

OUR SOLAR SYSTEM Winner: Siberian Totality © Anthony Ayiomamitis (Greece). Taken during a total eclipse of the Sun, this image reveals the faint solar corona usually hidden by the photosphere. The long streamers and prominences show the sun's activity beyond the surface, reaching out into the solar system.

Winners of the other categories also feature in the exhibition and include a striking vision of a total solar eclipse; a highly detailed panorama of a section of the constellation of Orion, including the three famous stars of the belt; the Horsehead Nebula and the Orion Nebula; a cliff top view of the evening sun as it sets behind a rock formation in Big Sur California and British newcomer Ken Mackintosh’s image of the Whirlpool galaxy slowly devouring its smaller neighbour.

14-year-old Dhruv Arvind Paranjpye from India won the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year with his image of a solar eclipse.

Now in its second year, the competition received over 400 entries from more than 25 countries.

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