‘Galactic Kiwi’ – Evan McKay nearly missed this shot from Maunga. Photo / Supplied, MWPY 2022
A photography competition has lit up New Zealand as one of the best places to see the night sky after three Kiwi photographers were named among the winners.
The Milky Way Photographer of the Year seeks to shine a light on the best astrophotography in the world. From Mount Taranaki to the rocks of Castle Hill/Kura Tawhiti and the rugged west coast near Motukiekie – New Zealand was well represented in his long list of twenty-five images for 2022.
The contest rules are simple. Photos can be taken from anywhere in the world, preferably at night, and must feature the Milky Way. The band of stars that appears in the outer rim of our galaxy can be seen around the world. However, there are conditions that contribute to the quality and clarity of images.
In the southern hemisphere, the best time to capture the galaxy is from January to November.
Naturally, as the nights get longer towards Matariki (June 24), the opportunity for images grows.
Nick Faulkner’s photo of Castle Hill was taken in the depths of winter, with snow still on the ground at Arthur’s Pass.
Evan McKay’s image of the climb to Taranaki was a second attempt. Not happy with his first shot, the stars aligned when the maunga returned.
“I had filmed there before, but felt I could do better, so I came back for an unexpected trip to try again,” he said.
On the west coast, next to the cliffs of Motukiekie, new mother Rachel Roberts took advantage of the sleepless nights to develop her art of photography.
“I’m still incredibly happy with what I achieved and really, really proud of the fact that I was shooting because I had just had a baby 6 weeks ago,” she said.
“The sleep deprivation I was experiencing was next level! »
Three Kiwi photographers was a record for the contest, which is released each May.
With participants from all over the world, the competition was fierce. It was the first time that winners were chosen in Tibet and Xinjiang.
Judge Dan Zafra, editor of Capture the Atlassays the awards shine a light on some of the world’s most pristine and remote horizons.
“Besides timing, the other requirement to see the Milky Way is dark skies away from light pollution,” he said. Air quality and urban development can all affect the ability to see the night sky.
The competition highlights the importance of preserving wild places for their beauty and scientific value.
New Zealand is home to three designated “Dark Sky” areas so wherever you are there is an opportunity to go for the Milky Way.
This includes two certified by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA).
Near Auckland, Aotea/Great Barrier Island earned star sanctuary status in 2017. Across the country, Rakiura/Stewart Island made the list in 2019.
However, since 2012, Aoraki/Mount Cook Mackenzie has been recognized internationally Dark Sky Preserve. “The Mackenzie Basin has the clearest, darkest and most spectacular night skies in New Zealand,” says IDA