Travel and adventure photography blog Capture the Atlas released its annual Milky Way Photographer of the Year collection which features the best night sky captures from around the world.
Breathtaking photos of the Milky Way from around the world
The publication highlights the top 25 entries in the collection and publishes the results at the end of May each year, coinciding with the peak of the Milky Way season. Capture the Atlas aims to inspire and share the beauty of the galaxy through each year’s collection.
This year’s list includes photos taken around the world in 12 countries – United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Egypt, France, Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia, Japan and China – by 25 photographers from 14 different nationalities.
The publication looks to the quality of the photo, the story behind the shot, and the overall inspiration that photography can provide as primary factors for including images in its annual showcase.
Dan Zafra, editor of Capture the Atlas, works on the preservation of these photos throughout the year. He is looking not only for photos taken by some of the most renowned photographers, but also for new talents and new places where the Milky Way has never been captured before, such as the photos of Tibet and Xinjiang in this edition’s year.
Below are 10 of the inspiring images from this year’s selections with the stories of each told by the photographers who captured them:
“Ice Age” – Alwin Wu
“This is China’s version of the blue ice lake, Pumoungcuo, at an altitude of 5,070 meters (16,600 feet).
“This lake, located in Tibet, freezes over every winter. At night, in the low temperatures of minus 20°C (-4°F), you can listen to the sound of ice cracking while capturing the most beautiful winter sky. The blue ice surface and the dazzling constellation of Orion create a fantastic landscape.
“I felt so happy to have the stars as my companions on this magical night.”
“Egyptian Nights” – Burak Esenbey
“This year I went to Egypt for the first time. The white desert was our goal here, in a place full of nature and sky Bortle 1-2.
“From Cairo, we drove about five hours west to our base camp, where we always started our explorations. The desert in Egypt is divided into white and black desert.
“As its name suggests, the Black Desert is made up of dark soil and large hills, while the White Desert is somewhat rugged but mostly consists of fine, light Saharan sand.
“This part is really exciting because, in addition to the photogenic sand dunes, there are also a lot of rock formations with special shapes. Due to the many sandstorms, many of these rock formations have a unique shape and thus offer a wide variety of compositions. You will easily believe me when I say that it was really fun to be here.
“We did our best to spot and shoot, but, given the size of the desert, there is still a lot to discover here.”
“Lighting up the Milky Way” – Jinyi He
“This photo was taken in the Dahaidao Desert, Xinjiang’s no man’s land. Due to the often strong wind, this area has gradually eroded into separate hills that take on the unique shape of a yardang.
Found this place online after much research and went there in a Land Cruiser with GPS.”
“Lavender House” – Benjamin Barakat
“I captured this image of the Milky Way last summer in Valensole, France. The smell and atmosphere of those lavender fields is unreal, and standing there in the middle of the night is bliss, d especially since the bees have fallen asleep and there is no risk of being stung!
“Nothing better than a warm summer night with a beautiful view of the night sky and that lonely, iconic house that sits in the middle of the lavender plateau!”
“Starry Needle” – Spencer Welling
“Utah’s badlands are full of breathtaking, otherworldly landforms hidden in seldom-seen corners of the desert.
“This needle-shaped pinnacle is one of those places nestled beneath a set of blue shale cliffs in the Hanksville Badlands. The night sky above this area offers some of the darkest and clearest views stars from all over the southwest On clear, moonless nights, the stars shine bright enough to cast noticeable shadows on the ground, as they did that night as I stood beneath the Needle.
“The Rocks” – Rachel Roberts
“Some of New Zealand’s darkest and most underrated skies are found along the west coast of the South Island, a place I’m lucky enough to call home.
“Motukiekie, located along the Great Coast Road, is a truly unique area where the galactic core of our Southern Milky Way sits above ancient sea stacks and exposed reefs.
“While not the composition I was hoping to shoot tonight, due to a big swell preventing any chance of getting out on the main reef, I’m still incredibly happy with what I came away with and really, really proud from the fact that I wasn’t filming at all, as I had just had a baby 6 weeks early. The sleep deprivation I was experiencing was next level!”
“Path to the Past” – Jose Manuel Galvan Rangel
“’A natural paradise’ – that’s the best way to describe the Spanish region of Extremadura.
“Not only are the flora and fauna of this lesser-known region spectacular, but so is the night sky, which is teeming with millions of stars that seem to light up as night falls and is free of pollution and stray lights. Given the quality of the skies in Extremadura, there are many Starlight reserves that can be enjoyed in these uninhabited lands, with many astrophotographers traveling here as their favorite destination.
“I took this photo in an isolated town in the southwest of this community called ‘Salvatierra de Los Barros.’ In this city virtually unknown to the rest of the world, you will find an imposing private castle that has stood, under the light of millions of stars, since the 15th century.
“Perseid meteor shower on the saddle of Mangard” – Uroš Fink
“I love nature and being somewhere outside under a starry sky in serene silence. That’s where I feel free, but, at the same time, so small.
“What always excites me about night sky photography is that you never know what to expect; surprises are happening all over the sky. You just have to be in the right place at the right time. In the end, the experience does not disappoint me in any way.
“It was one of my most anticipated locations in 2021 which my friend and I planned 6 months in advance. Of course, it brought us great results. The weather was good at first, but at the As the night progressed, high clouds appeared, which unfortunately obscured what was happening in the sky, however, I did catch a few meteors, which brightened up the night. surprise during filming is that, that night, Mangart Saddle was full of light from all sides and photographers eager for unforgettable moments and photographs.
“On the left side of the image is the road that leads to Mangart Saddle. An idyllic place in the middle of the Selle is the Mangart hut, where you can sleep and eat local cuisine. The highest peak in this part of the Julian Alps is Mangart (2,679 meters), the third highest mountain in Slovenia above which the Andromeda Galaxy emits its light. Slightly to the right of it are the Jalovec mountain and the Loška walls, which rise above the alpine valley of Loška Koritnica. it was an unforgettable night spent in good company of friends.”
“Secret” – Marcin Zajac
“These petroglyphs were carved into a large volcanic rock by Native Americans who inhabited this part of eastern California thousands of years ago. By chipping away at the dark surface of the rock, they exposed the lighter rock below.
“What’s unusual about this panel is that it’s angled skyward, allowing for interesting compositions that include California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and night sky in the same frame.”
“Winter Sky Over the Mountains” – Tomáš Slovinský
“Although the winter part of the Milky Way is much fainter than the summer part, it is still full of beautiful features that also deserve our attention. This part of the Galaxy contains many bright stars, especially those in the asterism of the Winter Hexagon.
“The galactic arms are full of hydrogen-alpha nebulae: objects that are (almost always) invisible to the naked eye, but totally visible with an Astro-modified camera. To capture more details of the H-alpha emission, I also used a special Hα filter.
“The arc of our Galaxy stretches over the Low Tatra Mountains in Slovakia, where temperatures dipped below -14°C that night. Above the subject (me) there is a brilliant cone of zodiacal light pointing to a beautiful conjunction at the time: the red planet, Mars, just between two open star clusters, the Pleiades and the Hyades.
The full 2022 photo collection can be found on the Capture the Atlas website, alongside the helpful Milky Way photography guide and 2022 Milky Way viewing schedule.
Picture credits: All photos are individually credited and provided courtesy of Capture the Atlas.