Note: Matt Young directed the selection of the finalists and wrote most of this text.
We received approximately 40 photographs from 20 photographers. Most of the pictures were excellent. We divided the entries into 3 categories, Land, Sea, and Sky, though we had to fudge a little bit to populate all 3 categories.
Choosing finalists was difficult. We considered what we thought were the scientific and pictorial qualities of the photographs, and also attempted to represent as many photographers and present as much variety as possible. The text was written by the photographers and lightly edited for style.
Here are the finalists in the Sky category. Please look through them before voting for your favorite. You will have to be logged in to vote on the poll. We know it is possible to game these polls. Please be responsible and vote only once. If we think that the results are invalid, the contest will be canceled. The photos and poll are below the fold.
The winner in each category will receive a copy of The Way of the Panda, by Henry Nicholls; we thank the publisher, Pegasus Books, for their generosity in providing the books.
Which photo best captures both artistic and scientific beauty?