French photographer Nicolas Lefaudeux has beaten thousands of amateur and professional photographers from around the globe to win the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s title of Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2020. As well as securing the £10,000 top prize, his image takes pride of place in the exhibition of winning photographs opening at the National Maritime Museum on 23 October 2020.
The judges were captivated by Lefaudeux’s awe-inspiring image. Taken in Forges-les-Bains, Île-de-France, the photograph depicts a version of the Andromeda Galaxy seemingly at arm’s length. Competition judge Ed Robinson said: “To most of us, our closest neighbouring galaxy Andromeda can also feel so distanced and out of reach, yet to create a photograph that gives us the impression that it is just within our physical reach is truly magical, and somewhat appropriate as we adjust after such socially distanced times“.
Lefaudeux created a part using 3D-printing to hold the camera at an angle at the focus of the telescope. The blur created by the defocus at the edges of the sensor gives this illusion of closeness to Andromeda. He used a Sky-Watcher Black Diamond 100 mm apochromatic refractor telescope at f/9, iOptron iEQ30 mount, Sony ILCE-7S camera (modified), ISO 2000 and 2 hours 30 minutes total exposure.