The long-awaited moment has arrived – WCI is delighted to announce the outstanding winners of the Wiki Science Ireland 2023 Photo competition! After weeks of rigorous review and spirited deliberation, we are thrilled to recognize the remarkable contributions of these talented photographers

The Wiki Science Competition (WSC) is an international photo contest for the sciences. It is organised by Wikimedia, which is the movement behind Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – a global collaboration authored by volunteers. Wiki Science was brought to life to encourage the creation and, especially, the free sharing of all sorts of imagery about the sciences. This year at the national level we have winners from three categories: Microscopy, Nature and Wildlife and Astronomy.

Without further ado, let’s celebrate our winners!

Microscopy Images

🥇 First Place: Degenerating-drosophila-retina by Guillaume Thuery.

Guillaume Thuery, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

This explosion of color is an image of the retina of a fruit fly expressing a toxic form of the RdgB protein, leading to degeneration. The yellow structures are photoreceptors. The colocalization that can be seen between the magenta and yellow colors suggests that a stress response has been activated in the photoreceptor cells. 

🥈 Second Place: Iron Sulphate Nucleation Point by by KarlGaff

KarlGaff, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

This kaleidoscope of magenta and vivid green depicts the nucleation point in a thin crystalline film of an iron-based compound photographed through compensated polarisation microscopy.

Nucleation refers to the process where a crystal forms around a minute imperfection such as a scratch, grain, dust particle, or abnormality on the surface of the glass slide, as seen in this case. Another example of nucleation is the formation of snowflakes in the atmosphere which form around tiny particles like pollen or pollutant particles. 

🥉 Third Place: Bryophyte Leaf Cells by KarlGaff

KarlGaff, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

This vision of green is a close-up of the cell wall in a moss leaf. It shows plant cells packed with chloroplasts. The colours within the cell walls is a result of birefringence, an optical effect exhibited by the anisotropic structure of cellulose bundled within the cell walls. This phenomenon can be observed through crossed-polarized light, as captured here at a magnification of 200 times.

🎖️ Honorable Mention: Pyramids of Anhydrite by Aileen555

Aileen555, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

This micrograph shows a vein of anhydrite (large triangular shapes) cutting a host rock of siltstone, filled with quartz and clay minerals. Anhydrite has perfect cleavage, resulting in the triangular forms seen here. The image is cross-polarised light, with anhydrite often displaying these characteristic pinks, blues, and grey colours. This sample is from the Lubambe Cu-Co mine, Zambia an important supplier of metals needed for the global green transition. 

Wildlife and Nature Images

🥇 First Place: A Picture of a Star by Paddynaramore

Paddynaramore, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia

The photographer who took this hauntingly beautiful sunrise photo says he used “No filters, no shades on the lens, nothing at all except the perfect atmospheric complexion for me to get a naked eye picture of the Sun! Granted it was setting but it was a stunning thing to behold, particularly in between a gap in the hedgerow like this! Just wish I’d captured it in full!” 

🥈 Second Place: Bailieborough Northern Lights by Olliebailie

Olliebailie, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Last November the Northern Lights could be seen all over Ireland and the Wiki Science photographers really took advantage capturing amazing shots in their localities. Olliebailie’s photo depicts an amazing site at Castle Lake in County Cavan when the Northern lights lit up this area of outstanding natural beauty. 

🥉 Third Place: Aurora beach by Anthony’s Astro

Anthony’s astro, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

This winning photo was captured only after a chase for clear skies across four counties, to try to catch the aurora! The pilgrimage was all worth it when winner Anthony’s astro finally got a brief and colourful display at Portmarnock Beach Ireland. 
🎖️ Honorable Mention:Aurora bench by Anthony’s Astro

Anthony’s astro, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

He continued to make the most out of one of nature’s most mystical displays getting this shot of the Aurora lighting up the sky at Balbriggan beach. Using a timer and his camera, he was able to sit back on the bench and watch the wondrous display.

Astronomy Images

🥇 First Place: Newgrange trails by Anthony’s Astro

Anthony’s astro, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The star trails over this image are evocative of the ones found carved into the stones inside this Neolithic Tomb in Meath. The swirling patterns in the sky were achieved by taking 30-second exposures for a couple of hours and stacking them all in starstax. 

🥈 Second Place: Moon Crane by Anthony’s Astro

Anthony’s astro, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps one of the most magical images of our winners this gorgeous shot shows the full moon being held up in the sky by a crane. 

🥉 Third Place: Sky Train by Anthony’s Astro

Anthony’s astro, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Another image by Anthony’s Astro depicts his dedication to his art infused with a sense of wonder and creativity. To achieve this gorgeous starry silhouette he used an astro modified 13 year old camera. While waiting for the Milky Way to rise at 3 am, he shot a panoramic of an old bog train that sits on the hill in Lough Boora Park in Offaly Ireland. Later in the night, he shot a panoramic of the Milky Way with the same camera. He used a star tracker to allow him to get longer exposures of the stars and what a result this long night was! 

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to each winner and express our sincere appreciation to all participants for their passion, creativity, and dedication to advancing scientific knowledge in Ireland. 

We would also like to give sincere thanks to our wonderful panel of judges for dedicating their time and enthusiasm to the selection process and celebration of Science in Ireland! Thanks to Niamh Shaw, Alison Boyle from Science Foundation Ireland, and Anne Murray of Galway Science and Technology Festival.

All of the winning photos will now go on to represent Ireland at the International phase of the competition. You can check out the international winners here.

Stay tuned for updates and ways to engage with Wiki Science Ireland in the future. If you missed this photo competition, don’t worry we are currently running another! You can enter Wiki Loves Folkore a photo contest that celebrates all things tradition and heritage until March. 

Let’s continue to champion curiosity, collaboration, and discovery in the spirit of Wiki Science Ireland!

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