Photography competition invites you to capture Chile’s skies

Major Atacama observatory and French astronomy magazine team up for competition to detail the wonders of the country’s night skies.

Waves of sparkling stars in the ‘Keel’ captured by ESO. Photo by ESO Astronomy / Facebook.
Waves of sparkling stars in the ‘Keel’ captured by ESO. Photo by ESO Astronomy / Facebook.

There’s no shortage of photographs taken by both amateurs and professionals detailing Chile’s dramatic landscapes. The country lends itself perfectly to dramatic panoramic shots of rolling mountains and sweeping valleys — however, aspiring snappers have been invited to turn their gaze skyward in a bid to capture the wonders of the universe by night.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) is the driving force behind the Photo Nightscape Awards (PNA), an international competition in partnership with French astronomy magazine ‘Ciel et Espace.’ The publication is dedicated to the sciences and supported by the French Astronomical Association.

PNA is a celebration of astrophotography including categories ‘Pro’, ‘Espoir’ and ‘Young’ now open to entries up until August 31. Pro is open to competitors of all nationalities across the world who are already published or have sold photos, while all photographers hoping to impress in the Espoir and Young slots need to be unpublished and of French nationality. The other category coined ‘Timelapse’ is open to everyone.

“Here in France we have several photo awards but not involving nightscapes — it’s for this reason that we’ve created the Photo Nightscape Awards,” Franck Seguin, Picture Editor of Ciel et Espace, told This Is Chile. “The prize has several categories such as Pro, Espoir, Young, Timelapse, the first entries we have received so far are incredibly beautiful.”

Entrants must take a photo of the night sky for the chance to win a trip to Paranal, the home of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) located in the Atacama Region in northern Chile.

Chile is no stranger to photography competitions. This year the country’s picturesque Aysén Region hosted a new festival welcoming expert and amateur photographers to highlight the beauty of the area.

In 2012 Wiki Loves Monuments was dubbed the “biggest photography competition in history” and accepted 4,090 Chilean entrants out of a total 365,895. Of those, ten photographs were selected from the country to enter the international competition including shots of a church in Valparaíso, a fort on the Straits of Magellan, a giant neon sign in Santiago, and a volcanic crater on Easter Island used by the Rapa Nui as a workshop to carve their iconic moai statues.

The observatories dotted around the Atacama Desert and the Coquimbo Region also regularly capture incredibly detailed images of the night sky, the Atacama’s area’s low humidity and elevated position are perfect for examining outer space. In the coming decade, projects such as the European Southern Observatory’s E-ELT, ALMA and the Giant Magellan Telescope are set to discover previously unknown knowledge of the universe.

PNA rules dictate that photographers need to submit a registration form and if under age, a parental consent form. All details and rules can be viewed on the competition website and the winners will be announced on the PNA Facebook page before the awards are presented November 9 at Les rencontres du Ciel et de l’Espace (RCE). The three-day conference is specifically for amateur and professional astronomers at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris, France.