The World at Night’s annual International Earth and Sky photo contest was started in 2009 to promote the night sky as a natural wonder in need of protection. In conjunction with the volunteer and conservation efforts of the U.S. nonprofit Astronomers Without Borders and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the contest brings together nature photographers from around the world to give us a clearer look at what the sky should look like–without any light pollution. The result? A collection of photographs that capture the stuff of stargazers’ dreams.
Photographers hailing from 54 countries submitted more than 1,000 images this year. They follow a simple criteria: Include both the the Earth and the sky and pay “special attention” to astronomical perspectives and celestial phenomena. Here a few of 2015’s winners.
Photo: Star Trails Above Table Mountain
UK traveling photographer Eric Nathan, who has photographed in 87 countries, was awarded first place in the Against the Lights category for this image. The cityscape lights of some of Cape Town’s 987,007 inhabitants are juxtaposed against the flat-topped Table Mountain and the star trails above it. It is comprised of a stack or compilation of over 900 thirty-second exposures, all captured in June 2014.