In photos which shoot for the stars, the Royal Observatory's annual astronomy competition can be as spectacular as the solar system it celebrates.
© Marco Lorenzi
Jupiter – accompanied by two of its 64 moons – provided the winner for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year in 2011, colourful bands and oval storms streaking across the surface of an entry by Damian Peach which had judge Sir Patrick Moore swooning.
A record 700 images were submitted, ranging from Turkish views of the Milky Way to Zodiacal Light above a Texan barn and a supernova explosion above Italy. Organisers are expecting similarly fierce competition as the fourth instalment of the prize begins.
"Astronomy is becoming increasingly popular with the public which is reflected in the big rise in entries we saw," says Dr Marek Kukula, a judge and Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, where the winners will be showcased in a major free exhibition.
"Every year the competition has brought new surprises. I love the fact that we receive entries from people all around the world and from complete beginners as well as seasoned experts.
"All the judges are excited about what we’re going to see this time around."
A number of unusual events, including the last transit of Venus for more than a century, are expected to provide stellar inspiration this year.
- Visit www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto to enter. Deadline for entries is June 29 2012. Exhibition runs September 21 2012 – February 2013.