Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016: Twenty-seven images as the awards are announced

By Culture24 Reporter | 16 September 2016

As Chinese photographer Yu Jun wins this year's overall prize at the Royal Observatory, here are 27 of the chosen pictures.

Robin Stuart (Kenya), A Wise Son Makes a Glad Father, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya (highly commended)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Robin Stuart
This touching scene shows a Maasai warrior bestowing his knowledge of the stars on his son as they gaze up at the Milky Way. The Maasai tribe use the stars to navigate across the east African plains in order to find new grazing grounds for their livestock. The photographer aimed to capture the moment that the knowledge was passed down from father to son and had planned the shot meticulously down to the perfect spot, even though it required him to lie down in dried cow excrement.

Dani Caxete (Spain), Man on the Moon, Cadalso de los Vidrios, Madrid, Spain (runner up)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Dani Caxete
A stargazer perches on the mountain known as Peña Muñana in Madrid, Spain basking in the warm glow of the rising full Moon. The photographer faced a challenge in getting his friend to reach the summit of the mountain at the right moment for this capture, a challenge that was heightened when it was discovered the friend had actually left his tripod at home.

Gerald Rhemann (Austria), Comet Catalina, Jauerling, Lower Austria, Austria (runner up)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Gerald Rhemann
Comet Catalina hurtles through the night sky, leaving a dust trail in its wake, which has undergone several disconnection events during its journey. A second tail of ionised gas emanates from its luminous blue coma, fading into the darkness from which the stars are gleaming out from.

Wing Ka Ho (Hong Kong), City Lights, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong (winner)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Wing Ka Ho
Star trails depicting the movement of the Earth, gently arc over the towering buildings peppered with neon signs and light pipes in the bustling Quarry Bay of Hong Kong. The light pollution in Hong Kong means that only a few stars are generally visible in the night sky, but this photograph shows that despite this you can still engage in some stargazing wherever you are in the world.

Katherine Young (Sweden), Rise Lunation, Serramazzoni, Emilia-Romagna, Italy (runner up)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Katherine Young
The often unnoticed ripples and shimmers of the Moon captured on film as it appears to rise through the sky. Here, the Moon is photographed at 98% illumination and is beginning to wane.

Catalin Beldea and Alson Wong (Romania; US), Sun Flower Corona, Tidore, Maluku Islands, Indonesia (runner up)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Catalin Beldea / Alson Wong
A composite of 12 images taken during the total solar eclipse on March 9 2016 from Tidore Island in Eastern Indonesia. Resembling tentacles, the blistering solar coronal structures reach out from the Sun’s surface with an average temperature of between one and three million kelvin. In this striking image, the features on the Moon’s face are also visible, but not because of the light from the Sun. The Moon is in fact illuminated by the sunlight reflected from our very own planet in a phenomenon known as Earthshine. The pink glow at the top left of the Moon comes from a solar prominence.

Kolbein Svensson (Norway), Black and White Aurora, Lierne, Norway (runner up)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Kolbein Svensson
An unusual view of the aurora, simply in black and white, that turns the expectations of aurora photography on its head. The removal of the vivid colours so commonly associated with the Northern Lights emphasises the fluidity of the aurora and the stark contrast it forms against the night sky.

Nicolas Outters (France), M94: Deep Space Halo, Castor Sirene Observatory, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France (winner)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Nicolas Outters
Discovered in 1781, Messier 94, or M94, is a distant spiral galaxy lying approximately 16 million lightyears away from our planet, that is notable for its two-ringed structure. At the centre of the structure the shimmering pinks of the inner ring show the hectic star forming activity leading to its sometimes being referred to as a starburst ring. The photographer has also captured the often unseen galactic halo of M94 made up of stars, hot gases and dark matter.

Yu Jun (China), Geminids over the LAMOST Telescope, Xinglong, Hebei Province, China (highly commended)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Yu Jun
Meteors blaze across the night sky as the Geminids reached their peak on 14th December 2015 in the Hebei Province, China. Over 100 meteors are featured soaring over the Guoshoujing LAMOST telescope of the National Astronomical Observatories of China in this composite image.

Pavel Pech (Czech Republic), Perseus Molecular Cloud, Šumava National Park, Czech Republic (runner up)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Pavel Pech
The Perseus Molecular Cloud lies 600 light years from our planet in the constellation of Perseus. Home to a large number of deep sky objects, the most famous of which is NGC1333 in the top right part of the image, radiating a vivid blue. The glistening stars starkly contrast with the dense, chocolatey browns of cosmic dust swirling between them.

Steve Brown (UK), The Rainbow Star, Stokesley, North Yorkshire, UK (Winner)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Steve Brown
The seemingly pop art-inspired canvas of the rainbow of colours exhibited by the brightest star in our sky, Sirius. Sirius is often seen shining as a white star, but is also known to flash with hues of numerous colours, as a result of turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere Since taking up astrophotography, the photographer had been searching for the best way to display these colours in an image. He finally hit upon the idea of videoing the star and has then picked out the frames with the most striking colours to showcase the chameleon-like quality of the star.   

Sergio Garcia (Mexico), Moonrise at the Pier, Galveston, Texas, US (highly commended)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Sergio Garcia
The Full Moon glows a soothing yellow as it rises over the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier in Texas, USA, almost appearing to hitch a ride on the ferris wheel.

Scott Carnie-Bronca (Australia – aged 14), Just Missed the Bullseye, Harrogate, South Australia, Australia (highly commended)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Scott Carnie-Bronca
The International Space Station (ISS) appears to pierce a path across the radiant, concentric star trails seemingly spinning over the silhouettes of the trees in Harrogate, South Australia.

Ainsley Bennett (UK), Binary Haze, Ashey, Isle of Wight UK (Winner)
A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Ainsley Bennett
A misty morning in October on the Isle of Wight is the setting for this image resembling an eerie scene from a science fiction film. The obscuring weather actually accentuated the brightness of Venus and the crescent Moon and transformed them to appear as glowing orbs floating over the Ashey countryside.

Tom O’Donoghue (Ireland), Starlight and Silhouettes, Etoile St Cyrice, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France, (highly commended)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Tom O'Donoghue
Taken over four years, totaling 110 hours and comprising of 36 panes, this image showcases the summer skies as seen from the northern hemisphere. The photograph reveals intricate details of our galaxy, the Milky Way that would be invisible to the naked eye. Glowing red hydrogen gas nebulae appear to intertwine with dusky nebulae made of dust, as the blue light of the stars twinkles out from behind them.  

Jonathan Farooqi (UK – aged 15), Cresswell Beach, Northumberland, UK,  Northumbrian Aurora (highly commended)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Jonathan Farooqi
The Aurora Borealis make a rare UK appearance in the skies over Cresswell Beach in Northumberland. The young photographer had seen the light display out of his house window, and convinced his mother to take him to the beach to capture the Northern Lights away from the light pollution.

Rolf Wahl Olsen (Denmark), Antlia Galaxy Cluster: Extreme Deep Field, 152 Hours, Home observatory, Auckland, New Zealand (highly commended)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Rolf Wahl Olsen
Taken over six months using 152 hours of data collected through the photographer’s homebuilt telescope, the Antlia Galaxy Cluster is found the Southern Celestial hemisphere. Situated between 132 and 133 million lightyears away, in the southeastern corner of the Antlia constellation, the cluster is home to around 234 galaxies in total, including the giant elliptical galaxies NGC 3268 and NGC 3258.

Ignacio Diaz Bobillo (Argentina), Towards the Small Magellanic Cloud, San Antonio de Areco, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina (runner up)
A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Ignacio Diaz Bobillo
One of the Milky Way’s closet neighbours, the Small Magellanic Cloud, is seen on the left hand side of the image in a flurry of blues and pinks that illustrate the several hundred million stars contained within the dwarf galaxy. The globular cluster, 47 Tucanae, is seen glowing a vibrant orange, in the upper right corner of the photograph.

György Soponyai (Hungary), Near Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway, Twilight Aurora (winner)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© György Soponyai
On the evening of the total solar eclipse on March 20 2015, the people of Spitsbergen were treated to a second natural lightshow in the form of the Aurora Borealis. At the time the photograph was taken the Sun was shining 9 degrees below the horizon, meaning it was evening nautical twilight on the shore of Greenland Sea. The Adventtoppen Mountain, standing at 2,579ft tall, towers over the orange-hued expanse in the foreground, as the Northern Lights gambol across the night sky.  

Jordi Delpeix Borrell (Spain), From Maurolycus to Moretus, L’Ametlla del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain (winner)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Jordi Delpeix Borrell
An incredibly close-up view of the roughhewn lunar landscape, littered with craters and craterlets largely forged by impacts from meteors and asteroids.

Bernt Olsen (Norway), Corona, Tromsø, Norway (highly commended)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Bernt Olsen
A Northern Light corona outburst taken directly beneath the vibrant emerald green whirlpool swirling in the sky in Sommarøya near Tromsø, Norway on March 15 2015.

Yu Jun (China), Baily’s Beads, Luwuk, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia (overall winner)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Yu Jun
The Baily’s Beads effect during the total solar eclipse of March 9 2016 captured from Luwuk, Indonesia. As the Moon passes in front of our star, the Sun, the rugged surface of our natural satellite allows beads of sunlight to escape in some places and not in others. Here, the photographer has captured the different beads of sunlight that spout from behind the Moon throughout the eclipse and stacked them on top of one another to illustrate the drama that occurs in the mere minutes that it takes for this astronomical phenomenon to pass. The pinks and reds in the image depict a searing, solar prominence leering outward from the Sun’s surface.

Gabriel Octavian Corban (Romania), Huge Filaprom, Bucharest, Romania (highly commended)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Gabriel Octavian Corban
A tremendous filaprom extends from the surface of our star, the Sun. Filaproms are large, gaseous features that can be partially seem over the Sun’s disk as a filament, and they are known to reach lengths equal to 150 Earths aligned.

Brendan Devine (USA – aged 15), Lunar Reversal, Chicago, Illinois, USA (winner)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Brendan Devine
A truly innovative image of the moon that has been inverted to bring out the intricate details of the rugged, lunar landscape that we often miss in more traditional shots of our natural satellite.  The inversion of the image has created high contrast not usually found in most images of the Moon, making it much easier to pick out detail, particularly in the craters. Veins and "splash marks" from the impacts of asteroids and meteorites easily observed in this image around the crater, Copernicus

Jasmin Villalobos (USA – aged 15), What the City Does Not Show You, Canyon Lake, Arizona, US (runner up)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Jasmin Villalobos
A man stands on a hill on Canyon Lake, Arizona, silhouetted against a night sky that fades from the moody, blue light pollution seen on the right hand side to the darkness that hangs over the desert.

Damian Peach (UK), Serene Saturn, Marley Vale, Barbados (winner)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Damian Peach
The second largest planet in our solar system, the gas giant Saturn, imaged on March 18 2016. The photograph clearly depicts the planet’s famed rings in great detail with striking contrast between each of them. Storms are visible across the face of the planet, as well as the astronomical mystery that is the hexagon at Saturn’s north pole.

Damian Peach (UK), King of the Planets, Marley Vale, Barbados (highly commended)

A photo of an intergalactic sky
© Damian Peach
Looming in the night sky, tempestuous storms are visible across the face of the largest planet in our Solar System, Jupiter. The Great Red Spot - a raging storm akin to a hurricane on Earth - stands out in a deep orange from the hues of browns surrounding it. The image was taken on March 18 2016 and features a view obtained close to opposition.

  • Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year is run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in association with Insight Investment and BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Exhibition runs at the Royal Observatory Greenwich from September 17 2016 – June 28. Visit

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