20 breathtaking astronomy photos capture the best of space


An aurora seemingly taking the form of a dragon.

Space and photography fans are in for a treat. The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition has returned, with its sixteenth edition shortlist featuring a stunning array of photographs.

London’s Royal Museums Greenwich received a whopping 3,500 entries from both amateur and professional photographers globally, each of whom captured a breathtaking glimpse of space. The 30 shortlisted entries range from visuals from the Geminid meteor shower to an aurora in the shape of a dragon to ancient supernova remnants. Categories cover everything from stars and nebulae to asteroids to lunar and solar images.

The official winners of the competition will be revealed in September, but for now the shortlist is an incredible first look at the intersection between art and astronomy. Take a look:

This image shows an abandoned house in the middle of the Namib Desert with the Milky Way rising above it.

“Abandoned House” by Stefan Liebermann.
Credit: Stefan Liebermann
This image shows the details of the Sun’s surface.

“A Whale Sailing the Sun” by Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau.
Credit: Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau
The Isaac Newton Telescope at the edge of the telescope facility on La Palma.

“Observations at Night” by Jakob Sahner.
Credit: Jakob Sahner
Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture.

“Earth and Milky Way Galaxy Show” by Yoshiki Abe.
Credit: Yoshiki Abe
SNR G156.2+5.7 is a beautiful and faint supernova remnant (SNR) in the constellation Auriga.

“SNR G156.2+5.7, a Faint Supernova Remnant in Auriga” by Bray Falls.
Credit: Bray Falls
A view of the Eystrahorn Mountain on the night of a KP7 storm.

“A Night with the Valkyries” by Jose Miguel Picon Chimelis.
Credit: Jose Miguel Picon Chimelis
An aurora panorama resembling a dragon, pictured in Raufarhöfn, Iceland.

“Arctic Dragon” by Carina Letelier Baeza.
Credit: Carina Letelier Baeza
CG4 (Cometary Globule 4) is a complex of nebulosity and dust with a very peculiar shape, located in the southern constellation of Puppis.

“The Galaxy Devourer” by ShaRA (Shared Remote Astrophotography) Team.
Credit: ShaRA (Shared Remote Astrophotography) Team
A picture of Snettisham Beach.

“Serpentine” by Paul Haworth.
Credit: Paul Haworth
The Pleiades photographed in Castilla-La Mancha, Spain.

“The Blue Details of M45: The Pleiades” by Sándor Biliczki.
Credit: Sándor Biliczki
This image shows a close look at IC 5070, the Pelican Nebula.

“Misty Mountains” by Bence Toth.
Credit: Bence Toth
The Carina arm of the Milky Way with a statue in the front, photographed in Kunene Region, Namibia.

“Run to Carina” by Vikas Chander.
Credit: Vikas Chander
The planet Ceres and the Blowdryer galaxy photographed in Chile.

“M100 (the Blowdryer Galaxy) and Ceres” by Damon Mitchell Scotting.
Credit: Damon Mitchell Scotting
This image shows the International Space Station (ISS) transiting the 51 per cent-illuminated Moon.

“International Space Station Daytime Moon Transit” by Kelvin Hennessy.
Credit: Kelvin Hennessy
A picture of the solar eclipse from Australia, composed of superimposed images.

“Total Solar Eclipse” by Gwenaël Blanck.
Credit: Gwenaël Blanck
M81, also known as Bode’s Galaxy, photographed in Michigan.

“M81, a Grand Design Spiral Galaxy” by Holden Aimar.
Credit: Holden Aimar
This is a still image from a time-lapse sequence of a solar prominence in Portugal.

“Gigantic Solar Prominence in Motion” by Miguel Claro.
Credit: Miguel Claro
An image taken from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) missions.

“Martian Dementors” by Leonardo Di Maggio.
Credit: Leonardo Di Maggio
Saturn’s decreasing ring tilt is helping the big orange moon Titan get closer to Saturn from our viewpoint than it has in over a decade.

“Saturn with Six Moons” by Andy Casely.
Credit: Andy Casely
The aurora in motion when it turned into something resembling a dragon’s head on a clear night.

“The Fire-Spitting Dragon” by Moritz Telser.
Credit: Moritz Telser

Want more Astronomy Photographer of the Year wonders? Check out 2023’s list.

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