spaceSpace and Physics

These Are The Most Spectacular Astronomy Photos This Year

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

James is a published author with four pop-history and science books to his name. He specializes in history, strange science, and anything out of the ordinary.

Senior Staff Writer

Reflection by Beate Behnke (Germany), shows the Aurora Borealis being reflected off the water in Skagsanden.

This shortlist for the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 competition has been released, and the images are truly spectacular.

The competition, which is now in its ninth year, is run by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, UK. This year's contest received nearly 4,000 entries from amateur and professional photographers. The images range from beautiful shots of the Northern Lights to astonishing time-lapse photos of the Jellyfish Nebula.


Below are some of our favorites from the shortlisted photographs.  


 A Battle We Are Losing by Haitong Yu - Beijing, China, March 2, 2017

This photo shows the Milky Way rising above a small radio telescope from a large array at Miyun Station. The image shows the contrast between the sky above the city – glowing with light pollution – and the stars directly above the telescope.

NGC 2023 by Warren Keller (USA) - Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, near La Serena, Chile, January 2, 2016

This is nebula NGC 2023. You might vaguely recognize it, as it's usually included in photographs of the Horsehead Nebula. The NGC 2023 nebula is 1,467 light-years away from Earth and 4 light-years across in diameter. Partner Steve Mazlin is the lead processor for this one. 

An Icy Moonscape © Kris Williams (UK), taken Snowdonia National Park, Conwy, UK, December 3, 2016

A snowy peak on Castell-Y-Gwynt (Castle of the Winds) in Glyder Fach Mountains in Snowdonia, North Wales. The landscape was formed via a process called freeze-thaw weathering, in which the water seeps into the cracks in the rocks, freezes, and then expands, which can cause the rock to split and crack over hundreds and thousands of years.

Eastern Prominence © Paul Andrew (UK) - taken in Dover, Kent, UK, August 29, 2016

A dramatic photo showing a "hedgerow prominence" that extends from the Sun, the plasma being pushed and pulled by unstable magnetic fields. NASA calls them hedgerow prominences because "they look somewhat like a hedge of bushes". 

Auroral Crown by Yulia Zhulikova - Murmansk, Russia, January 3, 2017

An amateur astronomer took this photo of the Aurora Borealis as it swirled above the snowy trees in Murmansk, Russia.

Ghostly Sun by Michael Wilkinson (UK) - Groningen, Netherlands, April 4, 2017

The Sun is photographed in Calcium-K light, showing the star’s inner chromosphere. In negative, the suface shows up as darker than the sunspots, which glow brightly on the Sun's surface.

The Lost Hour by Andrew Whyte (UK) - taken Titchfield, Hampshire, UK, March 26, 2017

Using long exposure, this photographer was able to capture the north celestial pole and the sky moving anti-clockwise around it.

NGC 7331 – by The Deer Lick Group © Bernard Miller (USA) - Animas, New Mexico, USA, October 30, 2016

NGC 7331 is a spiral galaxy 40 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Pegasus. The smaller galaxies above it are NGC 7335, NGC 7336, NGC 7337, NGC 7338, and NGC 7340.

Mr Big Dipper by Nicholas Roemmelt (Denmark), - Engadin, Graubünden, Switzerland, December 29, 2016

A photo of the night sky taken through the entrance to a glacier in Engadin, Switzerland. To get a photo that lit the man and the night sky correctly, the photographer combined two panoramas taken with different exposures.

Sh2-249 Jellyfish Nebula by Chris Heapy (UK) - Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK, November 29, 2016

This reminant of a galactic supernova has been nicknamed the "Jellyfish Nebula" due to its resemblence to a jellyfish. It's the remains of a star that could have exploded as many as 30,000 years ago.

The winners of the competition will be announced on September 14, 2017, at an award ceremony at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. The winning photographs will be displayed in a free exhibition from September 16.


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