Photos focus on night-sky wonders and worries

Alps at Night

The Second International Earth and Sky Photo Contest celebrates images that combine the beauties of the night sky with a notable location or landmark on Earth. This picture by Thomas Kurat, titled "Alps at Night," won first prize in the "Against the Lights" category. It shows the starry sky above a misty Alpine valley and the lights of an Austrian village.

A Starry Night of Iceland

The first prize in the "Beauty of the Night Sky" category goes to Stephane Vetter for this photo, which displays the northern lights and the Milky Way above the Arctic landscape of Iceland.

Isfahan Milky Way

The second-place winner in the "Against the Lights" category is Mehdi Momenzadeh from Iran, for his panoramic view of the Milky Way above the bright lights of Isfahan. The contest's "Against the Lights" category draws attention to the challenges posed by light pollution.

Galactic View from Planet Earth

Photographer Alex Cherney won second place in the "Beauty of the Night Sky" category for this view of the Milky Way's central bulge, as seen in the skies over Australia.

Lisbon Sky Lights

Third place in the "Against the Lights" went to this photograph by Portugal's Miguel Claro. The long-exposure image shows the slanting trails of stars and the crescent moon passing over a landmark bridge in Lisbon. The horizontal streaks are created by airplanes flying through the city's light-polluted skies.

Beauty of Southern Sky

Luc Perrot won third place in the "Beauty of Night Sky" category for this picture, showing the band of the Milky Way above Piton de la Fournaise an active volcano on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. In the background sky, you can make out the Southern Cross at upper right and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds at lower right.

Venus Above Reunion Island

The dazzling light of planet Venus is captured in this panoramic mountain view from Reunion Island's national park. Mars shines below and to the right of Venus. The bright stars Alpha and Beta Centauri are at top left. The colorful glows in the fog are due to light pollution from small villages hidden in the valley. This image by Luc Perrot won fourth place in the "Against the Lights" category.

The Great Wall at Night

Fourth place in the "Beauty of Night Sky" goes to this picture, taken by China's Xiaohua. The Milky Way is spread out above one of the gates to the Great Wall of China.

Lights from the Hidden City

The clouds above an Oregon mountain landscape glow with the reflected light from Portland, 50 miles away. This photograph, by Ben Canales, won fifth place in the "Against the Lights" category.

Startrails Above an Alien Lake

Star trails whirl around the north celestial pole in the skies above Mono Lake in California. This photo, by Grant Kaye, won fifth place in the "Beauty of the Night Sky" category.