One of the most renowned astrophotography prizes of all time went to the French photographer Nicolas Lefaudeux for his “illusory” image of our neighboring Andromeda galaxy.
Lefaudeux, known in astrophotography circles for his stunning HDR techniques and especially for his incredible 201
His picture will occupy a prominent place in the exhibition of winning photos that opens on October 23, 2020 at the National Maritime Museum in London.
What is the winning picture?
Lefaudeux’s picture with the title “Andromeda Galaxy at arm’s length?” Shows the Andromeda Galaxy apparently at arm’s length between star clouds. “I really didn’t expect to be the overall winner,” Lefaudeux told me yesterday. “I had some hopes of getting into the ‘Galaxy’ category as I liked the feeling of depth it gave the galaxy, but I was overjoyed when I received the news that I was the winner!”
The picture triumphed both in the “Galaxies” category and as the best picture overall.
Where was it recorded?
Lefaudeux took the picture in his home in Forges-les-Bains on the Île-de-France. “It’s suburban and far from perfect, but the streetlights go off after midnight,” said Lefaudeux. “It took a couple of hours to capture the image itself, but it took a lot longer to achieve the desired effect.”
“The image itself was captured with relatively simple equipment – a refractory telescope and DSLR camera under a suburban sky, rather than expensive hardware under a distant dark sky,” said Lefaudeux. “I think this is a great encouragement for anyone to try new ideas about astrophotography.”
How was it received?
It’s an illusion created by a tilt-shift effect. To accomplish this fabulous photo, Lefaudeux 3D printed a part to keep the camera at an angle in the focus of the telescope. The blurring caused by the defocusing at the edges of the sensor gives Andromeda this illusion of proximity. “I was looking for the right balance between the sharpness of the galaxy and the bokeh on the surrounding stars,” said Lefaudeux. “I designed a part and 3D printed it to keep the sensor at an angle to the telescope axis, but it wasn’t easy – you need a refractory telescope to get nice bokeh.”
What did the judges say?
“For most of us, our closest neighbor, Andromeda, can feel so distant and inaccessible, but taking a photo that looks like it’s only within our physical reach is truly magical,” said Competition Judge Ed Robinson . “It is something appropriate for us to adjust after such socially distant times”.
What is the Andromeda Galaxy?
Known to astronomers as M31, the Andromeda Galaxy is the closest major galaxy to our own Milky Way. A spiral galaxy about 2.5 million light years away from us and containing about a trillion stars.
The Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy are on a collision course and will merge in about four billion years.
I wish you clear skies and big eyes.