Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2018 Shortlist Announced

The brightness of the solar corona hides details of the Moon to human eyes during a total solar eclipse. But, by layering multiple digital exposures, in this case from two seconds to 1/2000th of a second, much more can be revealed. In doing so, eXtreme High Dynamic Range photography (XHDR) shows not only the brilliant solar corona, but the newest possible of new moons, seen here illuminated by sunlight reflecting off the Earth.
Earth Shine © Peter Ward

The shortlist for the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s competition Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2018 has been announced and the images will take your breath away.

The pictures include stunning depictions of the cosmos glowing from above the Earth. Twinkling above a desert or from the vantage point of an icy cave, clusters of stars juxtaposed against the geography of Earth, or even a single human, gives some perspective on the enormity of the universe.

4,200 photos were entered in this year’s prestigious Astronomy Photographer of the Year photo contest from amateur and professional photographers from 91 countries around the world.

The winners will be announced on 23rd October 2018 and the exhibition opens on 24th October 2018 at the National Maritime Museum. Successful finalists will be awarded in the competition’s nine categories along with the overall winner and two special prizes.

Here are a selection of the top entries, with descriptions provided by the competition:

A glorious Milky Way looms over a thunderstorm that lights up the Florida sky. The photographer wanted to show the great contrast between stable (Milky Way) and moving (thunderstorm) objects in the sky. Perry, USA, 21 August 2017
Thunderstorm under milky way. © Tianyuan Xiao (China)
Battling the light pollution in Malibu, California the photographer brilliantly framed our galaxy, the Milky Way, inside a sea cave, 25 miles away from the heart of downtown Los Angeles. In order to achieve this outstanding shot planning it ahead and waiting for the perfect conditions of low tide and clear skies was very important. The image required two exposures; one to capture the details of the dark cave and one for the Milky Way. Both exposures were taken back to back without moving the camera or changing the composition.
Cave Man. © Brandon Yoshizawa (USA)


The conditions for shooting aurorae that night weren’t the best because of the bright Moon – but I made this a challenge instead of an obstacle and came home with this amazing shot. To get a great Aurora Borealis photograph today you need an interesting foreground. The small pool of water with rocks made the perfect foreground and a natural leading line into the frame. A gorgeous night below the aurora!
Aurorascape © Mikkel Beiter
This image shows the Milky Way rising over some of the oldest trees on Earth in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, set within the White Mountains of California. The sky was incredibly dark and, with a thunderstorm approaching, I only had time to take one exposure of the sky. I managed to illuminate the tree to bring out the incredible detail these old pines have in their structure.
Guarding the galaxy © Jez Hughes
We had been travelling for 24 hours without sleeping to reach our destination before the one night where clear skies were forecasted ended. After reaching the hut and having a nice dinner, we climbed up to the cliff and waited for night-time to come. Unfortunately it came with a cloudy sky. We stood there being optimistic, knowing that all our efforts would be rewarded, and eventually the clouds disappeared and the magic happened: a beautiful Milky Way emerged over the mountains! It was amazing being there together enjoying the magnificent spectacle, truly a dream come true.
Guardian of Tre Cime © Carlos F. Turienzo
These spectacular reflection nebulae in Corona Australis exhibit the characteristic blue colour produced by the light of hot stars reflected by silica-based, cosmic dust. The data was acquired by Star Shadows Remote Observatory at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory’s PROMPT2, using LRGB (luminance, red, green, blue) filters. The data was prepared in CCDStack and post-processed in Photoshop and PixInsight by Mark Hanson. While the whole of Corona Australis is a gorgeous region, the cores of NGC 6726 and NGC 6727 are rarely seen at this amazing resolution. We feel that this is one of the most stunning regions of the southern sky, which leaves us with mouths agape!
RS34358_NGC 6726 and NGC 6727 © Mark Hanson, Warren Keller, Steve Mazlin, Rex Parker, Tommy Tse, David Plesko, Pete Proulx
After a long-haul drive, we finally reached the end of our journey chasing the summer Milky Way as our path terminated naturally in the rugged landscapes at Badlands National Park. This image is a panoramic view of a 6-shot composite, three for the sky and three for the earthly foreground, all of which were taken successively using the same gear and equivalent exposure settings, from the same location, within a short period.
Expedition to Infinity © Jingpeng Liu
In this image, a weathered juniper tree in Montana’s northern Rocky Mountains stands in early winter, while the sky above is filled with star trails. I noticed this tree a couple of years earlier and told myself that I had to go back for one of these shoots. It took several test frames of long exposures to make sure that I had Polaris in the right place, but eventually things lined up the way I had imagined.
Holding Due North © Jake Mosher