The World’s Best Photographs of Nighttime

  • 'Star Trails Above Table Mountain' by Eric Nathan (www.ericnathan.com). The image juxtaposes a moonlit Table Mountain and the star trails above it with the artificial lights of Cape Town, South Africa, created from a stack of over 90 30-second exposures, captured in June 2014. The first winner in the Against the Lights category.

    'Star Trails Above Table Mountain' by Eric Nathan (www.ericnathan.com). The image juxtaposes a moonlit Table Mountain and the star trails above it with the artificial lights of Cape Town, South Africa, created from a stack of over 90 30-second exposures, captured in June 2014. The first winner in the Against the Lights category.

  • 'The Enchanted Forest' by Lyubov Trifonova (www.vk.com/id10329233). The Moon and the northern lights lit up the snow-covered forest in Murmansk, northwestern Russia, December 2014. The first winner in the Beauty of the Night Sky category.

    'The Enchanted Forest' by Lyubov Trifonova (www.vk.com/id10329233). The Moon and the northern lights lit up the snow-covered forest in Murmansk, northwestern Russia, December 2014. The first winner in the Beauty of the Night Sky category.

  • 'Moonlit Darklings' by Brad Goldpaint (www.goldpaintphotography.com). The moonlight strikes Mt. Rainier in Washington, northwestern U.S., as the Milky Way drifts across the night sky, July 2014. The 2nd winner in the Beauty of the Night Sky category.

    'Moonlit Darklings' by Brad Goldpaint (www.goldpaintphotography.com). The moonlight strikes Mt. Rainier in Washington, northwestern U.S., as the Milky Way drifts across the night sky, July 2014. The 2nd winner in the Beauty of the Night Sky category.

  • 'Above the Light Pollution' by Evgeny Trisko (www.vk.com/trisko_foto). The Milky Way emerges from the clouds over lights in the valley. In the center is the Peak Terskol Observatory near Mt. Elbrus, northern Caucasus Mountains, Russia, photographed in August 2014. The 2nd winner in the Against the Lights category.

    'Above the Light Pollution' by Evgeny Trisko (www.vk.com/trisko_foto). The Milky Way emerges from the clouds over lights in the valley. In the center is the Peak Terskol Observatory near Mt. Elbrus, northern Caucasus Mountains, Russia, photographed in August 2014. The 2nd winner in the Against the Lights category.

  • 'A Raising of the Hackles' by Ben Coffman (www.bencoffmanphotography.com). On a crystal clear winter morning, the Milky Way and the crescent moon rise above the Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, U.S., February 2015. The 3rd winner in the Beauty of the Night Sky category.

    'A Raising of the Hackles' by Ben Coffman (www.bencoffmanphotography.com). On a crystal clear winter morning, the Milky Way and the crescent moon rise above the Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, U.S., February 2015. The 3rd winner in the Beauty of the Night Sky category.

  • 'Blood Moon Rises Over Chongqing' by Zhou Yannan (flickr.com/photos/zhouyannan). As the moon rose and the sun set on October 8, 2014, a lunar eclipse was in progress, as seen from Chongqing, China. In this photo-sequence, the rising eclipsed moon begins as a dark reddened disk and gradually comes out of the shadow while rising above the Yangtze River. The 3rd winner in the Against the Lights category.

    'Blood Moon Rises Over Chongqing' by Zhou Yannan (flickr.com/photos/zhouyannan). As the moon rose and the sun set on October 8, 2014, a lunar eclipse was in progress, as seen from Chongqing, China. In this photo-sequence, the rising eclipsed moon begins as a dark reddened disk and gradually comes out of the shadow while rising above the Yangtze River. The 3rd winner in the Against the Lights category.

  • 'The Dome' by Sigurdur William Brynjarsson (facebook.com/siggiphoto).  A 180-degree panoramic view of the aurora borealis on a winter night in Iceland, stretching from the city of Reykjavik (right) to the town of Keflavik to the west (left), December 2014. The 4th winner in the Beauty of the Night Sky category.

    'The Dome' by Sigurdur William Brynjarsson (facebook.com/siggiphoto). A 180-degree panoramic view of the aurora borealis on a winter night in Iceland, stretching from the city of Reykjavik (right) to the town of Keflavik to the west (left), December 2014. The 4th winner in the Beauty of the Night Sky category.

  • 'Star Trails over Bromo' by Hui Chieh Teoh of Malaysia (www.mydarksky.org). Time-exposure image of star trails around the south celestial pole, above volcanoes in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park of East Java, Indonesia. Lit by the rising moon, Mt. Bromo is the steaming crater in the center, June 2014. The 4th winner in the Against the Lights category.

    'Star Trails over Bromo' by Hui Chieh Teoh of Malaysia (www.mydarksky.org). Time-exposure image of star trails around the south celestial pole, above volcanoes in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park of East Java, Indonesia. Lit by the rising moon, Mt. Bromo is the steaming crater in the center, June 2014. The 4th winner in the Against the Lights category.

  • 'Strolls in the Star River' by Caren Zhao of China (weibo.com/u/2250248783). The arc of the southern Milky Way and the zodiacal light above Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat, in Bolivia. Photographed in February 2015. The 5th winner in the Beauty of the Night Sky category.

    'Strolls in the Star River' by Caren Zhao of China (weibo.com/u/2250248783). The arc of the southern Milky Way and the zodiacal light above Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat, in Bolivia. Photographed in February 2015. The 5th winner in the Beauty of the Night Sky category.

  • 'Above and Underneath' by Evgeny Trisko (www.vk.com/trisko_foto). The night sky above clouds illuminated by towns and villages hidden underneath, photographed in Pyatigorsk, Stavropol region of Russia, February 2015. The 5th winner in the Against the Lights category.

    'Above and Underneath' by Evgeny Trisko (www.vk.com/trisko_foto). The night sky above clouds illuminated by towns and villages hidden underneath, photographed in Pyatigorsk, Stavropol region of Russia, February 2015. The 5th winner in the Against the Lights category.

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For the past six years, the International Earth and Sky Photo Contest has invited photographers of all ages, nationalities, and skill levels to submit their best shots of nighttime. Organized by The World at Night (TWAN) in collaboration with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory and Global Astronomy Month, the contest is part of TWAN’s mission to raise awareness about light pollution and the detrimental effects it has on ecosystems, health, and energy consumption—as well, of course, on the natural beauty of a dark, starry sky. The few stipulations for submissions included having a “nightscape” composition, meaning they show both the earth and night sky and emphasize the latter, often showcasing a celestial phenomenon or astronomical wonder. Under the overall theme of “Dark Skies Importance,” photos were judged in two categories: “Beauty of the Night Sky” and “Against the Lights.” After sifting through more than 1,000 submissions taken in more than 54 counties, a panel of nine distinguished judges chose 2015’s winning shots, seen in the slideshow above.

For more information, visit TWAN.

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