Credit: National Geographic
1st Place, "Beauty of the Night Sky" Category
Photograph by Stephen Vetter, TWAN
Photograph by Stephane Vetter, TWANA dazzling green aurora frames the arc of the Milky Way over Jökulsárlón, the largest glacier lake in Iceland, on March 10. The picture is a first-prize winner in the Second International Earth and Sky Photo Contest's "Beauty of the Night Sky" category.
2nd Place, "Beauty of the Night Sky" Category
Photograph by Alex Cherney, TWAN
A tree seems to bend in a galactic breeze in a July 2010 picture of the central bulge of the Milky Way taken from Australia.
Our solar system lies in one of the galaxy's spiral arms, about halfway from the galactic center. Recent studies show that the Milky Way's dusty heart houses a supermassive black hole.
3rd Place, "Beauty of the Night Sky" Category
Photograph by Luc Perrot, TWAN
July 2010 panoramic picture of the French island of Réunion captures the Milky Way over Piton de la Fournaise, or "peak of the furnace," an active volcano. The small island lies in the Southern Hemisphere, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar.
4th Place, "Beauty of the Night Sky" Category
Photograph by Xiaohua, TWAN
Seen in April 2011, a gate in the Great Wall of China "seems to echo the timelessness of the Milky Way above.
5th Place, "Beauty of the Night Sky" Category
Photograph by Grant Kaye, TWAN
Stars seem to spin around the celestial north pole in a December 2010 picture taken from the shores of California's Mono Lake. Surrounded by limestone towers, the mineral-rich waters are home to many species of "extreme" bacteria, which can survive in conditions hostile to most other life on Earth.