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Eyes on the stars, teenager clinches top prize with photo

China Daily | Updated: 2021-11-23


Family Photo of the Solar System won Wang Zhipu the title of "Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2021" in the Royal Observatory Greenwich's annual astrophotography contest. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Wang Zhipu's obsession with outer space earns honors at British competition

Wang Zhipu, 16, begins his voyage into space after class. Mounting a telescope on the balcony at home, the high school sophomore observes the skies, taking photos.

The student at Yongtai No 1 High School in Yongtai county in Fuzhou, Fujian province, taught himself astrophotography by reading books and by searching online.

Recently, his efforts were rewarded when he won the title of "Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2021" in the Royal Observatory Greenwich's annual astrophotography contest.

His winning entry, entitled Family Photo of the Solar System, shows seven of the eight planets lined up horizontally, with the sun on the left and moon on the right, both pictured larger in size than normal.

The event, jointly organized by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London and the BBC's Sky at Night magazine, is the world's biggest astrophotography competition.

This year the competition attracted over 4,500 entries from 75 countries. Wang's photo took first prize in the Young Competition category, an award for photographers aged 15 and under.

Following the online awards ceremony in September, some of the shortlisted and prizewinning photos have been put on display at the National Maritime Museum, which is part of the Royal Museums Greenwich in London.

Wang worked on the photo for some time. During last year's summer vacation, he took photos of Saturn, Venus and Jupiter. Last October, he shot the moon, the Sun, Uranus and Neptune and earlier this year, he tried three times to take a satisfactory shot of Mercury.

He selected one photo of each planet from the numerous ones he'd taken, and then created a single, composite image using computer software. Busy with his studies, Wang made use of every spare moment, getting up at dawn, sleeping early to wake up at midnight, and even taking time off from evening classes when necessary.

His passion touched the jury. One of the judges, astronomer and Education, Outreach and Diversity Officer at the Royal Astronomical Society, Sheila Kanani, said: "As a planetary scientist, I applaud the work that has gone into creating this photo. I really like the composition with the moon on the right-hand side, too."

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