We are looking at an award winning photograph by young astronomer Dhruv Arvind Paranjpye.
About a year and a half back in September 2010, this picture bagged top honors at the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition in the under-16 category. The photograph will now make it to an official annual book on the competition held by the Royal Observatory of Greenwich, UK.
The picture shows an annular eclipse, which occurs when the Moon is too far from the Earth to completely cover the Sun’s disc unlike what happens during a solar ecplise. Through a layer of cloud, Dhruv shot the bright ring that appeared as the Sun shone around the edges of the Moon.
“My father got me a telescope and a digital camera, and the annular eclipse was a perfect opportunity to test my skills. The photograph was clicked from the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, Kanyakumari,” Dhruv, now 16, says. Dhruv’s father Arvind Paranjpye is an avid astronomy photographer himself and is presently the director of Nehru Planetarium in Mumbai. “Almost everyone had cameras attached to big telescopes with zoom lenses. While they were all disappointed that clouds had come in, he made full opportunity of the fact that clouds can act as natural filter,” the proud father says.
The photograph called ‘A Perfect Circle’ was taken with a basic 3.2 megapixel point-and-shoot camera, and got the first prize in that category. The stand out quality that got him the prize was the perfect geometry of the eclipsed Sun contrasted with the chaotic shapes of the clouds. By using the clouds as a filter, Dhruv was able to reproduce wonderful, contrasting colours.
This recognition would certainly motivate a lot of young astronomy enthusiasts and photographers to pursue their passion.