<p>A dazzling green aurora frames the arc of the <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/12/milky-way/croswell-text">Milky Way</a> over Jökulsárlón, the largest glacier lake in <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/iceland-guide/">Iceland</a>, on March 10. The picture is a first-prize winner in the <a href="http://www.twanight.org/newTWAN/news.asp?newsID=6064">Second International Earth and Sky Photo Contest</a>'s "Beauty of the Night Sky" category.</p><p>Organized by astronomy-education projects <a href="http://www.twanight.org/newTWAN/index.asp">The World at Night (TWAN)</a> and <a href="http://www.astronomerswithoutborders.org/global-astronomy-month-2011.html">Global Astronomy Month</a>, the contest honors pictures that meet one of two criteria: "either to impress people on how important and amazing the starry sky is, or to impress people on how bad the problem of <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/11/light-pollution/klinkenborg-text">light pollution</a> has become." In total, ten winners were announced May 9 in either the "Beauty of the Night Sky" or "Against the Lights" category.</p><p>To achieve the contest goals, organizers asked for "landscape astrophotography"—pictures of world landmarks against the night sky. This style "brings Earth and sky into one frame, and it's a bridge between the night sky and the ... environment," TWAN founder and contest judge Babak Tafreshi said in an email to National Geographic News.</p><p>"If we considered dark, starry skies a part of nature and our living world heritage, then we would try to preserve it like the other parts of nature."</p><p><em>—Victoria Jaggard</em><br class="kix-line-break"></p>

1st Place, "Beauty of the Night Sky" Category

A 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.

Organized by astronomy-education projects The World at Night (TWAN) and Global Astronomy Month, the contest honors pictures that meet one of two criteria: "either to impress people on how important and amazing the starry sky is, or to impress people on how bad the problem of light pollution has become." In total, ten winners were announced May 9 in either the "Beauty of the Night Sky" or "Against the Lights" category.

To achieve the contest goals, organizers asked for "landscape astrophotography"—pictures of world landmarks against the night sky. This style "brings Earth and sky into one frame, and it's a bridge between the night sky and the ... environment," TWAN founder and contest judge Babak Tafreshi said in an email to National Geographic News.

"If we considered dark, starry skies a part of nature and our living world heritage, then we would try to preserve it like the other parts of nature."

—Victoria Jaggard

Photograph by Stephane Vetter, TWAN

Best Night-Sky Pictures of 2011 Named

Star trails, an "alien" lake, and a "rainbow" aurora are among winning visions of the splendor of the night—and effects of light pollution.

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