This compilation is always published in December to coincide with the Northern Lights season in the Northern Hemisphere and the end of year, and it is aimed at inspiring and sharing the beauty of this natural phenomenon.
This year’s list includes images that were taken around the world, in countries like the United States, Russia, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, and Antarctica, by 25 photographers of 18 different nationalities. The competiton is also open to images of the Southern Lights, or Aurora Australis.
This year, Sydney-based photographer Ben Maze was named as one of the finalists, with his image 'The Hunt's Reward', captured in Tasmania.
"Captured in this image is a trifecta of astronomical phenomena that made for some of the best astrophotography conditions one can witness in Australia, namely, the setting Milky Way galactic core, zodiacal light, and of course, the elusive Aurora Australis," he writes.
"On top of this, a sparkling display of oceanic bioluminescence adorned the crashing waves, adding the cherry on top to what was already a breathtaking experience."
Joining Ben in the shortlist was Australian photographer and AP contributor Will Patino. You can see Will's shot on the Capture the Atlas website.
The quality of the image, the story behind the shot, and the overall inspiration that the photograph can provide are the main factors for selecting the images every year.
The Northern Lights season ranges from September to April in the Northern Hemisphere and from March to September in the Southern Hemisphere. The best time to see and photograph the Lights is during the fall and spring equinoxes because of the orientation of Earth’s axis.
Besides the timing, the other requirement for seeing the Northern Lights is a dark sky that is far away from light pollution. However, big displays of Northern Lights can be visible to the naked eye, even from light-polluted areas like cities.
Dan Zafra, editor of Capture the Atlas, curates these photos throughout the year. He looks not only for images taken by some of the world's most renowned photographers, but also for new talents and for new locations where the Northern Lights haven’t been photographed before, such as the Antarctica image at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in this year’s edition.
Capture the Atlas is a travel and photography blog that helps others plan their trips and improve their photography. Their main focus is landscape and night astrophotography, and their articles include photography guides, tutorials, and inspiration.