Giorgia Hofer of Northern Italy and Luc Perrot from Réunion Island of France have been announced as the first place winners of the 5th International Earth and Sky photo contest, on the subject of “Dark Skies Importance.”

Hofer and Luc were awarded first place in their respective categories of “Against the Lights” and “Beauty of the Night Sky.” 

Hofer tried to capture the mist from firework drones illuminated by a nearby light tower in her image,  “Light in the Sky,” taken on January 1, 2014 from Cibiana Pass in the Dolomites (Alps), Northern Italy.

“…In the only dark part of the sky, the Big Dipper (the prominent part of constellation Ursa Major) is perfectly framed by the rays,” said Hofer.

Contest judge and long-time National Geographic photographer James Richardson commented, “This captures the great ambiguity we feel about the night and night lighting. It is at once beautiful, and beautifully composed. But it is also night lighting obscuring the beauties of the night. [This is] A beautiful image that confronts us with our own, conflicted desires.”

Hofer’s photograph won not only in the “Against the Lights” division, but in the contest overall.

Perrot took first place in the “Beauty of the night Sky” category for his image “Over the Top,” captured from Réunion Island of France on February 28, 2014.

Contest judge David Malin said “The photograph beautifully captures a scene that is eternal, the central bulge of the Milky Way…rising majestically over Piton de la Fournaise volcano. The image shows no sign of human presence, and is a reminder that the foreground, landscape, and the dark dust lanes in the Milky Way are made of the same elements, seen here as delicate clouds and solid mountain peaks.”

James Richardson agreed, saying “With the Milky Way swirling over this fantasy landscape, it is a beautiful reminder that we live in galaxy, and that it is always there, whether we can see it or not. This image gives us a sense of our home in the universe.”

Hofer’s photo wins a complete Polarie Star Tracker set, provided by Vixen, including the mount, tripod, and the polar scope. Polarie is a smart ultra-compact mount for DSLR cameras to track the stars for astrophotography using just a camera and a lens.

Perrot’s photo wins a Canon EOS60Da camera, sponsored by Woodland Hills Camera & Telescope, a major provider of astronomical and photography equipment in the United States. The 60Da is a DSLR camera specifically made for night sky photography.

The full list of winners and their photographs can be found on the contest website, here: in the sky hofer over the top perrot