Astronomy is a discipline that goes back tens of thousands of year. We tell stories about the night sky, we study it, and we just enjoy looking at these stars. Some of us are also pretty excellent at photographing these stars, as well as planets, meteors, galaxies, and nebulae. To crown the best astronomy photographer of the year, the Royal Observatory is back with its Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2019.
The competition is in its 11th year and once again received a huge amount of entries. There were more than 4,600 submissions from over 90 countries across the globe. The winners will be announced on September 12, with the job of judging the photos reserved for British comedian Jon Culshaw, the art editor of BBC Sky at Night Magazine Steve Marsh, and other experts from the art and astronomy world.
The competition is sponsored by Insight Investment in association with BBC's Sky at Night Magazine. There are nine different categories and two special prizes, with each winner receiving £1,500 ($1,880) in prize money. The runners-up receive £500 ($630) and highly commended entries given £250 ($315). The judges will also announce an overall winner for the competition, who will receive £10,000 (about $12,500).
Below we have selected some of the most evocative shortlisted images.
The Lord of the rings and his court
Saturn and some of its brighter moons are visible in this "family portrait" of the system.
Deep in the Heart of Mordor - NGC 7293
The Helix Nebula is what happens when a small/medium star shed its outer layer towards this end of its life.
Coming in to land at Mare Crisium Spaceport!
This gorgeous image highlights the basaltic floor of one of the Moon's "seas".
Aurora Australis from Beerbarrel Beach
The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are captured among the southern lights.
Out on a Limb
This image shows a solitary prominence on the limb of the solar disk.
The Sculptor Galaxy
This beautiful spiral galaxy is 11 million light-years away.
The Perseid Fireball 2018
Quick reflexes are necessary to capture a meteor as it is bursting through the sky.
Road to glory
Snowy mountains, the Milky Way and even a meteor. What more could you ask for in an astronomy photograph?