Rare phenomenon during hybrid solar eclipse wins top prize in the Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition 2018

04 December 2018

An image capturing three photospheric "diamonds" and a ring of solar chromosphere around a rare hybrid solar eclipse has won first place in the Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition. The award, now in its fourth year, celebrates the power of photography to communicate science and shows the beautiful images discovered whilst exploring our world.

Winner Petr Horálek, who is an astrophotographer says, "During an unforgettable expedition to Pokwero, Uganda, I captured an incredibly short and unique hybrid solar eclipse. Just 3 minutes before the 19 second total eclipse, the stormy sky around the sun miraculously cleared up and allowed me to see this spectacular show, of which there is only roughly a 13% chance to successfully observe this phenomenon per century, considering its rare occurrence but also average weather conditions during these particular phenomena.

“During the eclipse, three rare photospheric "diamonds" appeared around the total eclipse’s phase. When the eclipse started (on left side of the image), a two-part diamond ring occurred which was unusual, followed by a third diamond ring on the right side. Another unique observation was the ring of solar chromosphere during the entire total eclipse all around the Moon. Witnessing this phenomenon has made me deeply happy considering how rare it is and how lucky I was with the weather, but also because this particular image has just won the prestigious Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition as overall winner!”

Professor Ineke De Moortel, one of the three judges, said, “The winning image is a true reflection on what makes this competition, by capturing a unique scientific event and communicating the science behind it through photography.”  

Four other stunning photos were singled out by the judges as winners in their categories.

  • Behaviour: “Two Royal Terns in courtship display” by Kristian Bell. “A beautiful morning on a beautiful beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida seemed to prompt these two Royal Terns to commence an intricate courtship dance”, says Bell. 

  • Earth Science: “Cappadocia, Turkey: Born of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water” by Katharine Cashman. This photograph highlights the volcanic landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey. It was created by a volcanic eruption (fire), is made of volcanic ash (earth), and has been sculpted by wind (air) and water. The view is from a balloon,” says Cashman.

  • Ecology and Environmental Science: “Waxwing and Rowan berries in the snow” by Alwin Hardenbol. “Bohemian waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) lust after Rowan berries (Sorbus aucuparia) in winter. They fly around in big flocks looking for the most delicious berries but they are picky eaters and do not just go for any berry. They skip certain trees and postpone eating the berries in others for later. Eventually, however, they did come to the trees right outside my office in Finland,” says Hardenbol.

  • Micro-Imaging: “Going round and round” by Leandro Lemgruber. “Within the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, scientists and clinical investigators develop different lines of research, from characterising the immune system to understanding the cell biology of parasites, viruses and bacteria and their relationship with their hosts; aiming to develop new therapies and treatments. One research group (Maizels Laboratory) studies the exploitation of the host's own immune system by helminth parasites and how that could lead to minimising the risk of autoimmunity. The group makes use of a model rodent parasite - Heligmosomoides polygyrus. The adult parasite inhabits the intestinal space of its host and coils closely around the intestinal villi. Here we show the striated external surface of this helminth - the cuticle - observed by scanning electron microscopy,” says Lemgruber.