Northwest Territories man among finalists in international astronomy photographer contest

The Northern Lights can be seen time-lapse over the Cameron River near Yellowknife in this undated handout photo.The Canadian Press

A Yellowknife man gains international recognition for a photo that captures a stunning display of dancing green auroras over the Cameron River.

Fred Bailey was the only Canadian among the finalists in the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s 2022 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. His time-lapse photo, taken outside of the Northwest Territories’ capital, earned him second place in the Aurorae category.

“I was thrilled, of course, but also humbled by the news given the quality of the entries this year,” he said. “Once the overall ranking was published in full, I quickly realized that this was a remarkable achievement and shows that I’m on the right track with my photography.”

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The annual competition is the largest of its kind and showcases space and celestial photography from astrophotographers from around the world. More than 100 winning and shortlisted images from this year’s entries are currently on display at the National Maritime Museum in London, depicting planets, galaxies, skyscapes and other celestial bodies.

Gerald Rhemann from Austria was the overall winner for his photo of comet C/2021 A1, commonly known as Comet Leonard.

Top spot in the Aurorae category went to Filip Hrebenda for his photo titled “In the Embrace of a Green Lady,” which shows the lights reflecting in a frozen lake above Mount Eystrahorn in Hvalnes, Iceland.

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Bailey’s photo, titled “Misty Green River,” was taken last September with a 15-second exposure. He said the photo was taken looking up the river at the Riffle as mist was rising from the water.

Bailey, who has lived in Yellowknife for 18 years, said he first photographed the aurora when he and his wife Karen lived in the Yukon in the early 1980s.

He said he enjoys entering competitions to get feedback on his photography.

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“In terms of future goals, I’ve always said it would be a good retirement job,” he said, noting that he and his wife have dabbled in making sellable products like calendars and making prints for friends and family.

Another photo Bailey took of the aurora over the Cameron River that he submitted to the National Wildlife Federation’s 2020 Photo Contest was selected for use in a Christmas card collection.

He said three of his Aurora photos won bronze at the 2021 Epson International Pano Awards.

Editor’s note: Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version identified the photographer at the center of the story as Frank Bailey. His name is actually Fred Bailey.

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