Astronomy Photographer Of The Year 2015 – Shortlist

The Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is an annual celebration of the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos by astrophotographers worldwide. The competetion is now in its seventh year and has received more than 2,700 entries from enthusiastic amateurs and professional photographers from 60 countries spanning the globe. You can see all 22,000+ entered images online at Astronomy Photographer of the Year’s Flickr photo pool.

The winners will be announced on 17 September at an award ceremony at the Royal Observatory in London. The winning photographs will be exhibited in the Astronomy Centre from 18 September 2015.

Following are some of the shortlisted spectacular images from this year’s entrants, showcasing incredible views of the Milky Way, Northern Lights, meteors, cosmic dust clouds and comets hurtling through space.

Ascent of Angels

Photo Credit : Brad Goldpaint

Ascent of Angels : A meteor can be seen piercing through the darkness as the Milky Way towers above the 4,392m peak of Mount Rainier in Washington, USA. The white lights dotted across the rocky paths of the mountain’s face are the headlamps of hikers ascending to the peak.

Aurora Panorama

Photo Credit : Jan R Olsen

Aurora Panorama 3 : The vivid green Northern Lights dance above Lyngenfjord, Norway, tracing out the shape of the Earth’s magnetic field above the waters. Green, the most common colour associated with aurorae, is produced by oxygen atoms and molecules energised by the impact of solar particles that have escaped the sun’s atmosphere, causing them to glow brightly.

Calm Before the Storm

Photo Credit : Julie Fletcher

Calm Before the Storm : A phenomenal natural light show of a lightning storm emanating from the underside of ominous storm clouds, juxtaposed with the gleaming stars of the Milky Way above.

Comet Lovejoy

Photo Credit : Michael Jaeger

C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy : Comet Lovejoy sails through the solar system in a green haze, leaving cometary dust in its wake.

Edge of the Aurora

Photo Credit : Chul Kwon

The Edge of the Aurora : A rare sighting of a red aurora, caused by the emission of high-altitude oxygen, captured on film, dancing over the small fishing town of Eyrarbakki, on the south coast of Iceland. The result of a large geomagnetic storm caused by a large coronal mass ejection.

Full Moon over the Alps

Photo Credit : Stefano de Rosa

Full moon over the Alps : The majestic sight of the full moon setting behind the rose-tinted Alps. Taken in the silent surroundings of Superga hill in Turin, Italy, mere minutes before sunrise.

Great Nebula in Carina Bi-Colour

Photo Credit : Terry Robison

Great Nebula in Carina Bi-Colour : The hypergiant star Eta Carinae glows against the background of swirling clouds of dust and gases that form the Carina Nebula. The Carina Nebula is one of the largest diffuse nebulae – meaning that it has no well-defined boundaries – in our skies and is about four times as large as the famed Orion Nebula.


Photo Credit : László Francsics

Herschel 36: The Heart of the Lagoon : Situated some 5,000 light years away, the stellar nursery of the Lagoon Nebula lies in the constellation of Sagittarius. Despite being light years away, the Lagoon Nebula is in fact one of the few star-forming nebulae that it is possible to see with the naked eye (in optimum conditions) from mid-northern latitudes.


Photo Credit : Patrick Gilliland

IC443 : Lying in the constellation of Gemini, IC443 is a galactic supernova remnant, a star that could have exploded as many as 30,000 years ago. Its globular appearance has earned the celestial structure the moniker the Jellyfish Nebula.

Mirrored Night Sky

Photo Credit : Xiaohua Zhao

The Mirrored Night Sky : An enthralled stargazer is immersed in the stars as the luminous purple sky is mirrored in the thin sheet of water across the world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni, in Bolivia.

Moon and Antelao

Photo Credit : Marcella Giulia

Moon and Antelao : Late afternoon at San Vito di Cadore, Italy the moon shines over Monte Antelao. The snow-covered dolomite ridge of the mountain and the Earth’s only natural satellite bear a striking resemblance to one another, contrasting against the bright blue of the afternoon sky.


Photo Credit : Rune Engebo

Motind : Careening over the peaks of Senja, oxygen produces the greens and nitrogen the purples seen in this particular display of the Northern Lights.

Star Trails over Green Lake

Photo Credit : Dan Barr

Star Trails over Green Lake : Star trails illuminate the night sky over a campfire-lit Green Lake in the Hoover Wilderness of California.

Subtle V1 cropped

Photo Credit : Patrick Gilliland

M42 Subtle V1 cropped : One of the most well-known astronomical objects in our universe is the Orion Nebula and this image depicts the wider region of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex that is its home. This complex also includes another popular target for astrophotographers, the Horsehead Nebula, as well as Barnard’s Loop and the Running Man Nebula, which can be seen to the left of this photograph.

Q2 Lovejoy

Photo Credit : Michael Jaeger

C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy : Comet Lovejoy sails through the solar system in a green haze, leaving cometary dust in its wake.


Photo Credit : Juan Ignacio Jimenez

Roseta-NBv5 : Measuring 50 light years in diameter, the large, round Rosette Nebula is found on the edge of a molecular cloud in the constellation of Monoceros the Unicorn. At the core of the nebula the very hot young stars have heated the surrounding gaseous shell to a temperature in the order of 6 million kelvins, resulting in the emission of copious amounts of X-Rays.

Solar Prominence

Photo Credit : Gary Palmer

Solar Prominence : Searing hot loops of plasma radiate from the edge of our local star – the sun – in a phenomenon known as a solar prominence. Emanating from the sun’s outer shell, from which light is emitted, prominences extend to the corona, which is the aura of the plasma surrounding it. A typical prominence covers over thousands of kilometres, with the largest ever recorded estimated to be over 800,000 kilometres, equalling roughly the radius of the sun itself.

Thor’s Helmet

Photo Credit : Adam Block

Thor’s Helmet (NGC 2359) : The distinctive shape of the nebula NGC 2359 has led to it also being known as Thor’s Helmet, as it resembles the headgear of the Norse God (and Marvel superhero). Around 11,000 light years away, the overall bubble shape is mainly due to interstellar material swept up by the winds of the nebula’s central star, Wolf-Rayet, an extremely hot giant thought to be in a pre-supernova stage.



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