Nature & Environment Sep 24, 2014

Iceland’s Aurora Borealis Wins Photography Award

James Woodend's image of an aurora over a glacier won the Best Astronomy Photographer award.

This year’s winner of the Royal Observatory’s Best Astronomy Photographer was James Woodend, a photographer from the U.K., for a picture of the aurora borealis over the Vatnajökull Glacier in Iceland!

According to the Royal Observatory website, pictures were submitted by photographers from over 50 different countries. The 2014 contest saw a record high of 1,700 entries in 4 categories: Earth and Space, Our Solar System, Deep Space and Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year. Woodend’s amazing photo was the Earth and Space category winner, marking the first time a photo of an aurora took home the grand prize.

Woodend used a Canon 5D Mk III to capture this incredible image, and while it may seem like he added special effects, the image is unedited! The judges praised the image for its ability to capture “what it’s really like to see a good aurora,” adding that “the landscape, with the reflections which seem almost sharper than the shapes in the sky, is a terrific bonus too!”

All winning entries are now on display at a free exhibition at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. Check out this slideshow to see winning images of eclipses, aurorae, star trails, nebulae and other solar features. In fact, for the first time ever, the contest received an image taken from the edge of space!