Stunning images from Astronomy Photographer of the Year revealed

Star trails above the preserved World War One trenches in Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park, Northern France (Picture: Celestial Equator Above First World War Trench Memorial © Louis Leroux-Gere)

The shortlist for this year’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year Award has been revealed and, as expected, features a dazzling array of constellations, galaxies and other cosmic phenomena.

Awe-inspiring scenes of the Milky Way, vibrant star trails racing across the night sky and spiral galaxies are just some of the breathtaking night sky views on display.

Run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the award has been marking the best in astronomical photography for the past 15 years.

In 2023, the competition received more than 4,000 entries from passionate amateur and dedicated professional photographers from 64 countries across the globe.

Shortlisted images from this year’s competition include star trails over the fWorld War One trench memorial in Vimy, northern France, the Milky Way over an abandoned diamond processing plant in Namibia, and gas giant Jupiter flanked by two of its moons, Io and Europa.

One of the astronomical highlights this spring was the amazing auroral activity. The Northern Lights were seen throughout the UK and Ireland, and one shortlisted image shows the Great Pollet Sea Arch, Ireland, silhouetted against a vibrant yellow and red aurora. 

An expert panel of judges from the worlds of art and astronomy will pick the winners of the competition’s nine categories and two special prizes.

The overall winner will be announced on September 14, and the winning images from each category will be displayed in an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum from September 16, alongside a selection of exceptional shortlisted images.

The best will also feature the competition’s official coffee table book, but for now you can take a moment to feast your eyes on the selection below.

Northern Lights over the mammoth sundial Arctic Henge, which is inspired by Norse mythology. The henge is located in Raufarhöfn, one of the northernmost towns in Iceland (Picture: Arctic Gates © Daniel Viñé Garcia)
The Northern Lights above the famous Icelandic mountain, Vestrahorn. The aurora is reflected on the black sand beach and the rising Moon makes the sand ripples appear golden (Picture:
Emerald Roots © Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti)
Mare Crisium is a lunar sea located in the Moon’s Crisium basin, just northeast of Mare Tranquillitatis. This mosaic photograph is made up of two high-resolution images showing a multitude of craters inside the basin. It was taken at Porto Mantovano, Mantua, Lombardy, Italy (Picture: Mare Crisium: From Light to Dark © Andrea Vanoni)
The Northern Lights over the Great Pollet Sea Arch, Ireland, captured as the Moon set. The photo was taken shortly after a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the Sun on February 24. This allowed the aurorae to be seen in large parts of the UK (Picture: Aurora Over the Great Pollet Sea Arch © Brendan Alexander)
This image combines multiple objects, but dominating the image is the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), a dwarf irregular galaxy around 200,000 light years from the Milky Way. 47 Tucanae, at the top of the image, and NGC 362, to the left of the Small Magellanic Cloud, are much closer to Earth and unrelated to the SMC. Extensive nebulosity is revealed by using narrowband filters. It was taken at Heaven’s Mirror Observatory, Yass Valley, New South Wales, Australia (Picture:
Nebulae of the Small Magellanic Cloud © Jonathan Lodge)
NGC 1097 is a barred spiral galaxy 50 million light years away. Known for its four optical jets which could be fossil star streams, trails left over from the capture and disruption of a much smaller galaxy in the large spiral’s ancient past. There are also two satellite galaxies NGC 1097 A and B, one which seems to be lurking in the spiral arms of NGC 1097. It was taken from the El Sauce Observatory in Río Hurtado, Chile (Picture: NGC 1097 and Tidal Tails © Mark Hanson; Mike Selby)
Composite image of three exposures showing the sunset on August 1, 2022 in Rafaela, Argentina. The crescent Moon has 16% of its surface illuminated and the clouds appear an intense red. It was taken from Rafaela in Santa Fe, Argentina (Picture: Crescent Moon in a Magical Sunset © Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau)
NGC 3521, a flocculent intermediate spiral galaxy, is surrounded by dust and has numerous star-forming areas and a luminous centre. Rarely seen hydrogen alpha jets have been captured. It was taken from the El Sauce Observatory in Río Hurtado, Chile (Picture: NGC 3521: Marquise in the Sky © Mark Hanson; Mike Selby)
This is a composite of an image of the Moon 78% illuminated and an image of the full Moon. Assembling close-up shots to create a mosaic of the whole Moon is complex, as the perspective changes slightly during a lunar orbit. It was captured at Wallasey in Wirral, Merseyside (Picture: Ball of Rock © Rich Addis)
The Sun, photographed from Traisen, Germany, moving towards its maximum cycle. A large 700,000km long solar flare erupts to the left of the image. The current solar cycle, 25, started in 2019 and is increasing in strength. It will peak in a few years’ time, then weaken over the following years before another cycle starts anew (Picture: The Great Solar Flare © Mehmet Ergün)
A photograph of an auroral substorm which suddenly formed, throwing an incredible curtain of light over Olstind mountain. After just two shots, the lights had faded away into the night (Picture:
Curtain of Light © Andreas Ettl)
Taken at Zselic Park of Stars in Zselickisfalud, Hungary, this photograph captures a solar prominence on the limb of the Sun. Using careful processing the photographer has elevated this everyday solar activity (Picture: Grazing Mammoths © Rafael Schmall)
Photograph of the Sun taken from a 27-minute timelapse of a solar, flare which took place on 30 April 2022. It was taken from the Dark Sky Alqueva region in the Évora district, Portugal (Picture: Solar Flare X1 from AR2994 in ‘Motion’ © Miguel Claro)
This photograph was taken in Bogenfelsin, Namibia. Formally known as Sperrgebiet, this area was once occupied by German colonialist mining for diamonds. The settlements they built are now ghost towns, seen here is a decayed processing plant (Picture: Sperrgebiet © Vikas Chander)
This photograph was taken at Dolbadarn Castle, a late Twelfth Century castle located above Llanberis in the heart of Eryri. The core of the Milky Way can be seen rising behind the castle and the Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) range of mountains (Picture: Dolbadarn Castle, Home of Welsh Princes © Robert Price)
The Milky Way viewed behind a graffiti of Pandora by Wild Drawing (WD), a Balinese artist on the Greek island of Naxos. In Greek mythology, Pandora opened a jar – or box – releasing all the evils of humanity into the world. The wall is part of an abandoned beach hotel complex where graffiti now covers the walls (Picture: Pandora’s Box © Derek Horlock)
The Sun photographed from Beijing, China, showing the transit of the China Space Station (CSS). The image of the CSS was produced by selecting the nine clearest photos from captured video frames (Picture: China Space Station Transits Active Sun © Letian Wang)
A photograph of Saturn at opposition – the view captures the ring system and coloured bands and zones in its atmosphere. The Cassini Division, the almost 5,000km-wide gap between the two main ring structures is clearly seen in this image taken at Marley Vale in Barbados (Picture: Colourful Saturn © Damian Peach)
Comet Leonard (C/2021 A1) captured over the Negev desert, Israel. The comet made its closest approach to Earth in 2021–2022 and was highly visible with a clear tail. The comet was later destroyed by an orbit that took it close to the Sun (Picture: C/2021 A1 (Leonard) in Sky of Israel © Alex Savenok)
Jupiter flanked by two of its many moons, Io and Europa. Europa is the icy white moon casting a shadow onto the ‘surface’ of Jupiter, and Io is the yellowy-orange lava-covered circle on the lower left. The Great Red Spot is clearly seen with the shadow of Europa cutting across its southern edge. This was pictured at Marley Vale in Barbados (Picture: Dance of the Moons © Damian Peach)
The Milky Way over the Isles of Scilly. Taken on the remote island St Agnes, the lack of light pollution allows for a breathtaking view of our galaxy (Picture: St Agnes © Derek Horlock)
This image shows Comet 2022 E3 soaring over Mount Etna, Sicily, as volcanic vapours sweep over the crater. The glowing turquoise green of the comet contrasts with the night sky and snowy landscape (Picture: Comet 2022 E3 Above Snowy Mount Etna © Dario Giannobile)
The Milky Way taken from the top of Pain de Sucre, on the French-Italian border. The photographer climbed the summit twice in search of optimum conditions. The settled clouds and the pastel colours create a serene view of the mountain range (Picture: On Top of the Dream © Jeff Graphy)
The Milky Way over the White Desert National Park, Egypt. Venus is clearly seen just above the horizon (Picture: Dune © Burak Esenbey)
Solargraphs are photographs taken with a homemade pinhole camera, and can be used to capture the Sun’s path across the sky. Each streak of light in the solargraph image represents one day. Missing light streaks indicate that the sun is obstructed by cloud cover (Picture: Solargraph 209 days © Ksawery Wróbel)
RCW58 is a Wolf Rayet bubble nebula formed from the ejecta of the star WR 40, which shines from the centre of the bubble. It was taken at the El Sauce Observatory, Río Hurtado, Chile (Picture: RCW 58: Wolf Rayet Bubble © Mark Hanson; Mike Selby)
The Pleiades star cluster contains about 1,000 stars at about 440 light years away, but only the brightest are visible to the naked eye. Captured from Santa Susana, Portugal  (Picture: Pleione’s Daughters © Andre Vilhena)
The Jellyfish Nebula (IC 443), a supernova remnant (SNR) in the constellation Gemini, captured from
Coppet in Vaud, Switzerland. Here, the stars have been removed from the image in order to focus on the delicate nebulous structures (Picture: Jellyfish Nebula © Peter Larkin)
The Tarantula Nebula (NGC 2070) is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Capturing the Tarantula Nebula’s intricate details and vibrant hues is a challenging task that requires precision and patience. This image was taken with a telescope from Bentleigh in Victoria, Australia. Narrowband filters have been used for the nebulosity and RGB filters for the stars, so they are in natural colours (Picture: The Majestic Tarantula Nebula © Steeve Body)
This image of star trails over a deactivated radio telescope antenna was taken at Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory in Cambridge. The image was achieved with a simple remote shutter locked for continuous images (Picture: Radio Polaris © João Yordanov Serralheiro)
The Veil Nebula, a supernova remnant in the Cygnus constellation. The photographer from China experimented with narrowband filters for the first time to achieve the detail and structure (Picture: Eastern Veil: NGC6992/6995 © Jia You)
A photograph of the Milky Way taken in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Due to the lack of light pollution, Chandaria could see the Milky Way clearly with the naked eye (Picture: The Milky Way © Kush Chandaria)
Taking inspiration from Jean-Dominique Cassini’s Carte de la Lune c1679, an early scientific map of the Moon, Sergio Díaz Ruiz used Nasa data to generate a monochrome image of Pluto. Using this image Ruiz converted pixel intensities to line thickness, in order to simulate an engraved print. Ruiz used the colour palette from Cassini’s Carte de la Lune provided by the Library of the Utrecht University, and then added ripples and noise effects to the background, emulating a more realistic finish (Picture:
Cassinified Pluto © Sergio Díaz Ruiz)

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