Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 at the Royal Observatory Greenwich: shortlisted images to this year's competition revealed

Awards announced 17 September

Exhibition of winning images opens 18 September 2014

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.

Notes to editors:

1. Competition Categories and Prizes:

Overall winner – Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013 (Winner £1500)

Earth and Space: Photos that include landscape, people and other ‘Earthly’ things. Pictures should also include an astronomical subject – for example the stars, the Moon, or near-Earth phenomena such as aurora. (Winner £500, Runner-up £250, Highly commended entries £125)

Our Solar System: Photos of our Sun and its family of planets, moons, asteroids and comets. (Winner £500, Runner-up £250, Highly commended entries £125)

Deep Space: Photos of anything beyond our Solar System, including stars, nebulae and galaxies. (Winner £500, Runner-up £250, Highly commended entries £125)

Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Category for under-16s. (Winner £500, Runner-up £250, Highly commended entries £125)

The judges will also award three special prizes:

People and Space: Photos that include people in a creative and original way. (Winner £350, Runner-up £125)

The Sir Patrick Moore prize for Best Newcomer: Photos taken by people who have taken up the hobby in the last year and have not entered an image into the competition before. The judges will give special consideration to those using simple and inexpensive start-out kit. (Winner £350)

Robotic Scope Image of the Year: Photos taken using one of the increasing number of computer-controlled telescopes at prime observing sites around the world which can be accessed over the internet by members of the public.

2. Designed by Christopher Wren, the Royal Observatory Greenwich is home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian and one of the most important historic scientific sites in the world. Since its founding in 1675, Greenwich has been at the centre of the measurement of time and space. Visitors can stand in both the eastern and western hemispheres simultaneously by placing their feet either side of the Prime Meridian line. Today the galleries describe the achievements of the early astronomers, explain the history of the search for longitude at sea and tell the story of precision timekeeping.  The Royal Observatory Greenwich, along with the National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House and Cutty Sark, are part of Royal Museums Greenwich.

3. The Royal Observatory Greenwich is home to the state-of-the-art Peter Harrison Planetarium (PHP), London’s only public planetarium. The PHP has a regularly updated programme of shows which for September 2014 includes: a short film of images from the Astronomy Photography of the Year exhibition which runs before selected PHP shows; a special children’s show Space Safari, and a live astronomer led trip around the stars – Sky Tonight Live

4. BBC Sky at Night Magazine is the hands-on guide to astronomy for those who want to discover more about the wonders of the Universe from the world’s leading astronomers and writers. Complementing The Sky at Night, the longest-running TV programme in history, the magazine features comment and analysis from its presenters including Chris Lintott, Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Pete Lawrence and Lucie Green, as well as coverage of the latest discoveries in astrophysics, practical night-sky observing guides and equipment reviews. It is the definitive publication for astronomers of every level.

5. The Royal Observatory Greenwich, in partnership with Collins, will be publishing ‘Collection 3’ of Astronomy Photographer of the Year on 18 September. This official publication for the competition will showcase over 120 breath-taking images of space and the night sky, including all 2014 winning, runner-up, highly commended and shortlisted images. A guide to the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is also featured in the book. The foreword is written by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

Photographs will be accompanied by full details including photographer, astronomer’s comments, location where photographs were taken, and technical specifications.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year / RRP £25.00 / Hardback / 18 September 2014 / Pre-orders can be made at Royal Museums Greenwich online shop

For further information, or to request review copies please contact: Samantha Eardley / samantha.eardley@harpercollins.co.uk

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Media interviews:

The Royal Observatory Greenwich's Modern Astronomy team is dedicated to the Public Understanding of Science and its experts are available to give radio and TV interviews on astronomy - at the historic Observatory site or in the studio.

The Observatory offers a short notice service to media stations looking for comment / interviews on any aspect of modern astronomy – discussing new discoveries and space missions, telling people what to look for in this month's night sky, or talking about old favourites like black holes, is there ‘life’ and the origins of the universe.

For studio quality and interviews at short notice an ISDN line is available.

For further information or images, please contact:

Rhianon Davies, Royal Observatory Greenwich Press Office Tel: 020 8312 6545 | 07983 512 841 or Email: press@rmg.co.uk