2022 Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest teems with bright stars

Check out the stunning shortlist for the Royal Observatory Greenwich's coveted Astronomy Photographer of the Year award, now in its 14th year.
By | Published: July 29, 2022 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
The Starry Sky Over the World’s Highest National Highway © Yang Sutie
The illuminated National Highway 219, the highest national highway in the world, snakes through the foreground, almost mirroring the majestic image of the Milky Way above. The two are separated by Kula Kangri, a mountain located in Shannan Prefecture, Tibet. Taken with SIGMA ILCE-1 camera, 20 mm f/2.8, ISO 800, 245-second total exposure. Location: Shannan, Tibet, China

Montana’s big, starry skies and the deep purple plumes of the Carina Nebula are among the shortlist of finalists announced earlier this month by the Royal Observatory Greenwich as part of its Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. Closeups of the Moon, Los Angeles’ strangely beautiful skyline, and the dazzling tail of Comet Leonard are all competing entries as well. 

Now in its 14th year, the contest features amateur photographers from 67 countries with snapshots in categories such as skyscapes, aurorae, asteroids, the Moon, and more. The ultimate winner will receive the coveted title of Astronomy Photographer of the Year.

Other prizes already awarded include Best Newcomer and Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year. The Annie Maunder Prize for Digital Innovation has also been awarded for a dramatic cyanotype photograph of Earth. Cyanotypes were invented in the mid-1800s; they use chemicals such as ferric ammonium oxalate or ferric ammonium citrate combined with potassium ferricyanide on paper or another surface. Exposing the material to ultraviolet light creates a blue-green image.

The Astronomy Photographer of the Year will be announced September 15 and the photo will be on display, along with winners in other categories and shortlisted contestants, at the National Maritime Museum in London on September 17. A book of all the photos will be released later that month. 

Suburbs of Carina Nebula © Ignacio Diaz Bobillo
The main subject of this image is the nebula cataloged as RCW 53c. It is seldom captured by astrophotographers. This is a bicolor, narrowband rendition with HOO color-channel mapping. Taken with a QHY 600 camera, 1252mm f/7.2, 54 x 5-minute exposures in H-alpha and 61 x 5-min exposures in OIII (5 hours 24 minutes total exposure). Location: General Pacheco, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina
Crossing the Madison © Jake Mosher
The Milky Way arcs over Three Dollar Bridge in Montana in April 2021. The photographer drove 100 miles to watch the core of the Milky Way rise above the horizon a couple of hours before daylight. Taken with Nikon D850 camera, 35mm f/4, ISO 1600/640, multiple exposures between 110 and 180 seconds. Location: Madison River, Montana, USA

Solar Wind Power © Esa Pekka Isomursu
A vivid auroral corona behind the wind turbine gives the illusion of an interaction between the two, as if the turbine was driven by the solar wind or the turbine was dispersing the aurora. This was shot during a strong auroral storm in northern Finland. Taken with Canon R5 camera, at 14 mm f/2.8, 2-second exposure. Location: North Ostrobothnia, Finland
Arp 271: Cosmic Collision © Mark Hanson, Mike Selby
NGC 5426 and NGC 5427 are two spiral galaxies of similar size engaged in a major interaction. Known collectively as Arp 27 , the interaction is expected to continue for tens of millions of years. Taken with CDK 1000 telescope, FLI 16803 camera,6000 mm f/6, 32 hours total exposure. RGB values captured using RiDK 700 FL 4900 telescope. Location: El Sauce Observatory, Río Hurtado, Coquimbo Region, Chile
Solar Inferno © Stuart Green
The Sun looks different every time astrophotographers capture an image as new sunspots form, grow, and eventually fade away. The photographer selectively filtered out all wavelengths of light except a narrow red band (known as the H-alphaline) to reveal an active region of change of the Sun. Taken with Basler acA1920-155um camera, 5100 mm f/34, 2,500 x 0.02-second exposures (50-second total exposure) using a home-built telescope fitted with a Lunt 35 H-alpha etalon filter. Location: Preston, Lancashire, UK
Fly over the South Pole © Andrea Vanoni
Due to afavorable libration, in this image you can see the craters and mountains at the lunar south pole, including the crater Bailly (with its discernible basin) on the right. Under Bailly are the craters Bettinus, Kircher and Wilson. The Montes Leibnitz are visible on the edge. Taken with a ZWO ASI178MM camera, Newton 405mm ‘Ares’ f/4.5 and Barlow 2.7x lens. Location: Porto Mantovano, Lombardy, Italy
Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) © Lionel Majzik
Comet Leonard was discovered by G.J. Leonard on January 3, 2021, and made its closest pass to Earth on December 12, 2021. The photographer secured some time with the robotic telescope at the Skygems Remote Observatories in Namibia on December 27 to capture this rare glimpse of a comet that will leave the solar system and not be seen again. Taken with QHY 600M camera, 600 mm f/3, 2 x 120-second exposures (Lum), 1 x 120-second exposure (RGB). Location: Hakos, Khomas, Namibia
Earth Cyanotype © Lynda Laird, Using open source data from Suomi NPP satellite
This is a cyanotype photographic print, an alternative photographic process discovered by astronomer John Herschel in 1842. The original image is called a Blue Marble Earth montage, created from photographs taken by the VIIRS instrument on board the Suomi NPP satellite. After downloading the image, Lynda Laird converted it to black and white, experimenting with the levels to create a digital negative. This was then printed onto acetate, placed on top of the cyanotype coated paper and set outside in sunlight to develop.
Radio Telescope © Liu Xuemei
The Mingantu Astronomical Observatory is in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China and is mainly used observe the Sun. Here, it is silhouetted against a starry night sky. Taken with Nikon D810A camera, 35 mm f/4, 120-second total exposure. Location: Mingantu Town, Zhengxiangbai Banner, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China
IC 1871 – A Little Devil Riding on the Head of a Dragon © Nan Wang, Binyu Wang
This image shows the nebula IC 1848 and its core, IC 1871. The Soul Nebula is an emission nebula located in Cassiopeia. In the east of the Soul star cloud is a complex of nebulae and star clusters known as the Heart Nebula (IC 1805) of nebula and star cluster. Together they are often referred to as the Heart and Soul. Taken with a ZWO ASI6200MM PRO camera, 1100 mm f/7.3, 32-hour total exposure. Location: Enjoy Observatory, China