Preliminary
  • Qualifying entries (those that meet eligibility criteria and abide by all competition rules) are scored by a panel of judges, consisting of scientists, engineers, astrophotographers, and other professionals from NSF.
  • All entries are scored anonymously.
Semifinal
  • Entries scored in the top half of each category in the preliminary round advance to the semifinal round.
  • Entries are scored by a panel of judges, consisting of scientists, engineers, astrophotographers, and other professionals from NSF and Astronomy magazine.
  • All entries are scored anonymously.
Final
  • The top 10% or top 30 entries (whichever is smaller) of each category from the semifinal round advance to the final round.
  • Entries that reach the final round are eligible to win the People's Choice award via an online public vote.
  • Entries are scored by a panel of distinguished judges, composed of prominent astronomers and scientific visualization artists, who are chosen jointly by NSF, Astronomy magazine, and Discover magazine.
  • Each entry is scored by all of the final-round judges.
  • All entries are scored anonymously.
  • Judges, at their discretion, may choose not to award First or Second prize in a category, but may instead choose to award Honorable Mentions or choose not to award a prize at all.
  • All judges' decisions are final.
  • Winners will be notified individually before the public announcement of the official contest results. Failure to reach winners will not delay the public announcement. Contest results will be publicly announced in Astronomy magazine, on Astronomy's website, on Discover magazine's website, and by a joint news release with NSF. NSF will also publish the names of winners on its website. By participating in this contest, you give implicit permission to NSF, Astronomy magazine and Discover magazine to publish your names and images of Comet ISON.
  • Entire contest is subject to cancellation should the visibility of the comet be judged not optimal by scientific staff at NSF, Astronomy magazine and Discover magazine.
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