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Incredible Images From The Astronomy Photographer of the Year Awards

Perhaps more than any other type of photography, astronomical photography is simply mind-bogglingly beautiful - the amount of patience and control required to take good photos of the night sky, let alone distant stars and planets, is difficult to overstate the level of accomplishment.

That's one of the reasons that every year, there are awards that are solely dedicated to astronomy photographs, and the winners of the most recent awards have just been announced. Enjoy some of the best images we have gathered for you.

The Milky Ring 

This image was selected as the winner of the Galaxies category in the year 2021. It took Zhong Wu two years to complete and features an incredible amount of detail in a 360-degree mosaic. It's no surprise that the judges praised it.

Polar Lights Dance

This photo, which was selected as the winner of the Aurorae category in the year 2021, captures the wonder of the polar lights as they approach the Kara Strait in Russia.

Dmitrii Rybalka, a photographer, shared his thoughts on what happened: "As Third Officer on the bridge of the ship, I was keeping watch at night when I noticed in the sky a tiny white band approaching like a snake. I immediately alerted the crew. I knew right away that this was it, that this was the moment I had been waiting for. I grabbed my camera and headed to the bridge wing, where I took up a position and began to wait, much like a hunter waiting for its prey to appear. After a few minutes, the sky was filled with bright green lights that danced in the darkness and shone over everything as they made their way across the sky. I had a strong sense that it was my responsibility to share this beauty with the rest of the world."

The Sun sharing its Crown

This photograph was selected as one of the runner-up images for the "Our Sun" category of the awards in 2021, and it is shown here.

This incredibly well-timed photograph not only captures a spectacular view of a total solar eclipse, but if you look closely, you'll also notice a comet in the upper right-hand corner of the frame, which was captured by the photographer himself.

The Green Lady

All of the elements of a spectacular photograph are present here: the aurora borealis dancing in the sky in a sublime mix of greens and blues, all suspended above an ice-cold lake, as well as hints of human habitation in the form of the illuminated small town below. It's a bit of a miracle, to be honest.

The Moon and the Shard

Against the backdrop of London's Shard, the moon hovers ominously, everything illuminated perfectly to draw attention to the building's construction in contrast to the exquisite detail captured on the moon's surface.

Desert Magic

A dessert scene that is beautifully illuminated by the smorgasbord of light and stars in the sky above, with an entire constellation and galaxy suspended beautifully in mid-air, is depicted.

Galactic Portal

Once again, the contrast between land and sky is the key, with the incredible purples and pinks of the night sky lighting up the frame beautifully, as seen from within a cluster of rocks framing the action on the ground below the scene.


Trixy, the photographer's dog, is the star of this photograph, artfully silhouetted in front of a bright and massive moon, which appears almost impossibly large due to the photographer's long focal length. It's a delightful and entertaining piece of music.

Lone Tree under a Scandinavian Aurora

As a runner-up in the Aurorae category for 2020, Tom Archer's breath-taking image of a lone snow-covered tree sitting beneath the Scandinavian Aurora was selected. The shot is still stunning in our opinion, and Mandy Bailey, Astronomy Secretary for the Royal Astronomical Society, concurs: "It's a jaw-dropping moment."

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