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The National Science Foundation’s Comet ISON Photo Contest

Whether Comet ISON is a once-in-a-lifetime event, a great performer, or a run-of-the-mill comet, your picture of it could win a $2,500 prize.

RELATED TOPICS: COMET ISON | COMET
Comet McNaught
Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) showed many first-time celestial photographers just how easy it could be to record a comet. For this 13-second image, the photographer used a tripod-mounted DSLR and a 55mm lens. He set his camera to ISO 800.
Martin Moline

Comet ISON looks to be the most publicized comet of our lifetimes — and perhaps the most photographed. Because so many people are planning to snap pictures of it, the National Science Foundation’s Division of Astronomical Sciences, Discover magazine, and Astronomy are co-sponsoring the Comet ISON Photo Contest.

The contest is open to amateur and professional photographers worldwide. Enter today at www.nsf.gov/comet! The contest runs through January 15, 2014.

Judges will consider images in three categories: 1) Cameras and tripods without the use of tracking or telescopes; 2) Piggyback cameras riding atop a telescope or motorized mount; 3) Through-the-scope images where the telescope acts as the camera’s lens.

First prize in each category is $2,500. Second prize is $1,000. In addition to the six prize winners, website visitors will choose an additional “People’s Choice” award worth $1,500.

Winners will be notified before the public announcement is made in April 2014. Winning images will appear in print in Astronomy and online at Astronomy.com, DiscoverMagazine.com, and on the NSF website.

Your picture of Comet ISON may turn out to be a once-in-a-lifetime image.

Check out our expert imaging tips!

THE DETAILS

Category and Prize Information
The contest winners will be awarded cash prizes. First and second place prizes will be awarded per category. One People’s Choice prize will be made. The prizes will be awarded as checks made out to the registered team leader and may be shared among any team members listed on the registration form at the team leader’s direction.

Cameras & Tripods
Pictures taken with cameras and normal camera lenses only (no telescopes), using a tripod or otherwise acquired without the aid of any tracking devices    
First Prize: $2,500
Second Prize: $1,000

Piggyback Cameras
Pictures taken with cameras and normal camera lenses only (no telescopes), using any form of tracking device
First Prize: $2,500
Second Prize: $1,000

Through the Scope
Pictures taken through a telescope using a DSLR camera, CCD camera, or other imaging device
First Prize: $2,500
Second Prize: $1,000

People’s Choice
Public selection of best image overall
Prize: $1,500

To be Eligible
  • Entries must convey a visual of Comet ISON.
  • Entries must include information about where the visual was taken, when the visual was taken (day, month, year, and time), the equipment used to capture the visual, and the camera settings.
  • Entries can be produced by individuals or teams.
  • A maximum of three entries by an individual or team is permitted.
  • Each entry can be submitted to one category only.
  • Entries must match the description of the category to which they are submitted.
  • Entries must not advertise or promote a commercial product visually or orally.
  • Entries and registrant information must be submitted in English.
  • Entries must have a high-resolution version of the visual that is at least 2 megapixels, in order to ensure that the image can be reproduced for publication and promotional purposes.
  • Employees, contractors, or officers of the sponsoring organizations are not eligible to enter the contest.

Official Rules
  • Contest entry constitutes agreement to adhere to the rules and stipulations set forth by the contest sponsors.
  • Any entrant or entry found in violation of any rule will be disqualified.
  • Each entrant certifies, through submission to the contest, that the entry is his or her own original creative work and does not violate or infringe the creative work of others, as protected under copyright law.
  • By entering the contest, the entrant agrees to hold harmless NSF, Astronomy magazine, and Discover magazine for all legal and administrative claims, to include associated expenses that may arise from any claims related to his or her submission or its use.
  • Entrants retain all copyright and equivalent rights but give NSF, Astronomy magazine, and Discover magazine nonexclusive rights to use their names, likenesses, quotes, submissions, or any part of the submissions for educational publicity and/or promotional purposes. This includes but is not limited to website display, print materials, and exhibits.
  • NSF, Astronomy magazine, and Discover magazine reserve the right to use semifinalist and finalist winners’ names and entries for educational publicity and/or promotional purposes, including website or exhibition of winning entries. It is understood that entries will be shared with reporters covering these awards and for promotion of the competition itself.
  • NSF, Astronomy magazine, and Discover magazine will not be responsible for any claims or complaints from third parties about any disputes of ownership regarding the images.
  • Winners are responsible for all taxes or other fees connected with the prize received and/or travel paid for by the sponsoring organizations.
  • NSF, Astronomy magazine, and Discover magazine will not respond to any claims or inquiries regarding contest rules.
  • NSF, Astronomy magazine, and Discover magazine have the final say on any point not outlined in the entry rules.
  • Information requested on the entry form will be used to determine how and if the competition is meeting its goals, purposes, and audience. Submission of this information is also necessary to contact entrants.
  • Employees, contractors, officers, or judges of the sponsoring organizations are not eligible to enter the competition.
  • Finalist judges, either individually or as part of a team, are not eligible to enter the competition.
  • If the visibility of the Comet ISON is judged non-optimal, the sponsoring organizations reserve the right to modify or cancel the competition at any time during the duration of the competition.
  • If an insufficient number of qualified entries are received, the sponsoring organizations reserve the right to modify or cancel the competition at any time during the duration of the competition.
  • Should NSF decide to bring winning contestants to Washington, D.C., or to any other location for promotional and other purposes, expenses paid by NSF will be within the limits set forth in law according to federal travel regulations. The travel will be restricted to participants based in the US. Foreign winners will have to designate a U.S.-based representative for that purpose.
  • Should NSF decide to bring winning contestants to Washington, D.C., or to any other location for promotional and other purposes, NSF will fund travel for only one person from the U.S. per group or team entry if the entry wins. The maximum funding is $1,000 for one person per group or team entry. This person will be the contact person listed on the entry form. If this person is not available, he or she will designate a replacement from the team. If a single person wins multiple categories, he or she must represent all of the winning entries; designees are not permitted in this instance. Only persons listed on the original entry form may have their travel funded by NSF. All other persons accompanying the winner/group representative must arrange and fund their own travel and accommodations.
  • All contestants agree that they, their heirs and estates shall hold harmless the United States, the employees of the federal government, and all employees of NSF, Astronomy magazine, and Discover magazine for any and all injuries and/or claims arising from participation in this contest, to include that which may occur while traveling to or participating in contest activities.
  • A lead contact person must be designated for team submissions. The order in which names are listed on the entry form is the order that names will appear in Astronomy magazine, Discover magazine, and on the NSF website.
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