Star trails sweep over the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, dust clouds are moulded into colossal arrangements by cosmic radiation thousands of light years away, a bright meteor races across the night sky passing over Indonesia’s smoke-spewing Mount Bromo; the 2014 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition has received more outstanding pictures than ever before. The competition, which is run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in association with BBC Sky at Night Magazine, is now in its sixth year and continues to go from strength to strength, receiving a record number of over 2500 spectacular entries from enthusiastic amateurs and professional photographers from around the globe.
Shortlisted entries include the magnificent pageantry of aurora dancing above the clouds taken from the window of a transatlantic flight between London and New York; the remarkable scene of the Milky Way reflected in the Snake River at the world famous Oxbow Bend of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming; and a crowd of awestruck onlookers taking in the spectacular solar eclipse gleaming through the steam as the Old Faithful Geyser erupts in Yellowstone National Park. The variety of settings is not just limited to our planet. Photographers have also captured sights from across our Solar System, galaxy and even further afield; from a rare daytime scene of Jupiter moments before its astronomical alignment behind the body of the Moon, to the searing heat of the Crescent Nebula glowing in a whirl of red and blue, to the sprawling stellar nursery of the Orion Nebula 1350 light years away and home to stars at diverse stages of their lives.
The competition’s judges include Space-scientist and TV presenter Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Editor of Sky at Night Magazine Chris Bramley and the Royal Observatory’s Public Astronomer Dr Marek Kukula. The winners of the competition’s four categories and three special prizes will be announced on 17 September and an exhibition of the winning images opens the following day on 18 September at the Royal Observatory.
The exhibition is free of charge and runs until February 2015. Winners and shortlisted entries will also be published in the competition’s official book, available on 18 September from bookstores and online. All entries to the competition were submitted via a dedicated Flickr group (www.flickr.com/groups/astrophoto). The awards ceremony can be followed live on Twitter #astrophoto2014.
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