Why, and is it important?
(Some)The 2012 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition winners

kyrioib:

Earth and Space category winner: Star Icefall by Masahiro Miyasaka (Japan). 
Taken in Nagano, Japan, this image shows Orion, Taurus and the Pleiades as the backdrop to an eerie frozen landscape. Though the stars appear to gleam with a cold, frosty light, bright blue stars like the Pleiades can be as hot as 30,000 degrees Celsius.

Deep Space category runner-up: Simeis 147 Supernova Remnant by Rogelio Bernal Andreo (USA). The photographer here set out to show not only the main subject of the image  a vast supernova remnant  but also the objects in the wide starscape that surrounds it. Straddling the constellations of Auriga and Taurus, Simeis 147 consists of the expanding debris of a massive star which exploded around 40,000 years ago. As the wreckage continues to spread out into space it collides violently with the dust and gas between the stars, sculpting it into the glowing shells and filaments which have earned Simeis 147 the nickname of the Spaghetti Nebula.

Deep Space category highly commended: NGC 6960 - The Witch's Broom by Robert Franke (USA). Part of the Veil Nebula, the Witchs Broom is the glowing debris from a supernova explosion  the violent death of a massive star. Although the supernova occurred several thousand years ago, the gaseous debris is still expanding outwards, producing this vast cloud-like structure. In this image narrowband filters have been used to greatly increase detail while giving a reasonable representation of the nebula's colour.

Deep Space category highly commended: Sharpless-136: 'Ghost' in Cepheus by Oleg Bryzgalov (Ukraine). The spooky shapes that seem to haunt this starry expanse are in fact cosmic dust clouds that fill huge volumes of space between the stars.  The dust consists of tiny grains of minerals and ices and is an important building block for the formation of future stars and planets. The photographer had to travel 1,000 kilometres into the mountains of the Crimea to find a sky dark enough to capture this image.

Earth and Space category highly commended: The Milky Way View from the Piton de l'Eau, Reunion Island by Luc Perrot (Reunion Island). The Milky Way arches over a mirror-like lake on the island of Reunion. At the bottom of the picture Piton des Neiges, the highest peak of Reunion Island, can be seen.  The bright patch to the left of the image marks the bulge of stars at the heart of our Galaxy. The photographer waited two years before all the combined conditions were favourable to succeed with this photo.

Earth and Space category highly commended: Sky away from the Lights by Tunç Tezel (Turkey). Dark mountain peaks frame two distinct lightscapes -  the distant glow of towns and villages, and the majestic star fields of The Milky Way. Making the most of an August night, the photographer got this shot after trekking out to the Uludag National Park near his hometown of Bursa, Turkey.

Young Astronomy Photographer category highly commended: Heavenly Showers by Jathin Premjith (India, aged 15). This photograph from the Young category of the competition skilfully frames the streaming, swirling patters of the Northern Lights with treetops below and a starry sky above.  In the centre of the image, which was taken in the far North, close to the Arctic Circle, Orion the hunter is just visible through the bright auroral display. Taurus the bull and the bright Pleiades star cluster are seen in the clear area to the upper right.

Young Astronomy Photographer category highly commended: Origins of Life on Earth by Thomas Sullivan (USA, aged 13). Earth and space are evenly weighted in this wonderfully framed image of a Californian landscape beneath the Milky Way.  The young photographer has chosen a view of an ancient Bristlecone Pine which is over 4000 years old, and whose sloping trunk and gnarled branches provide perfect counterpoint to the edge-on view of the starry disc and knotted structure of our galaxy.Best Newcomer category winner: Elephant's Trunk with Ananas by Lóránd Fényes (Hungary). The Elephants Trunk seems to uncoil from the dusty nebula on the right of the image, its tip curled around a cavity carved out by the radiation produced by young stars. Capturing a deep sky object like this takes skill and painstaking attention to detail and is a great achievement for a newcomer to astrophotography.

*rest are in the source link* 

phoco:

Image by:
Marek Nikodem

Image taken:
Mar. 11, 2012

Location:
near Szubin, Poland

phoco:

Image by:
Marek Nikodem

Image taken:
Mar. 11, 2012

Location:
near Szubin, Poland