Shooting Stars: Global Search for Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 Begins

16 January 2014

The Royal Observatory Greenwich, in association with Sky at Night Magazine, launches its 2014 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition at midday – kicking off its annual global search for the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos, whether they are striking pictures of vast galaxies millions of light years away, or dramatic images of the night sky taken much closer to home.

Entries to the competition must be submitted by 24 April 2014, and the winning images will be showcased in the annual free exhibition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich from 18 September 2014 to February 2015.

Now in its sixth year, the competition attracted a record-breaking number of entries last year, with spectacular images submitted from around the world. Mark Gee (Australia) won with his extraordinary image depicting a star-riddled Milky Way alongside the beam from a lighthouse on Cape Palliser in New Zealand, shining out towards the sea, the stars and the unknown.

Other winning images from 2013 showcased astounding astronomical wonders of the night sky such as Sam Cornwell’s ghostly, visceral depiction of the 2012 Transit of Venus that won the Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer, and winner of the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year, 14-year-old Jacob Marchio’s (US) striking shot of the Milky Way rendered with a dusky brown colour palette.

Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich and judge in the competition said:

‘Two of my favourite elements of the competition are the Young Astronomy Photographer category and the Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer, so I'm hoping to see lots of new entries for both of these in 2014. Often it's the entries from young photographers and complete beginners that blow the judges away – having an eye for a really striking picture is the most important thing and you can take a great astrophoto just by pointing your camera.’

Competition judge and Sky at Night Magazine Editor, Chris Bramley, said:

‘I'm really looking forward to seeing the new and exciting ways that the beauty of space will be captured in 2014. It's been a fantastic time to be aiming a camera skyward: with comets, meteor showers and strong solar activity, and with some great planetary appearances in the early part of 2014, I'm anticipating a spectacular field of images this year.’

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 has four main categories:

  • Earth and Space – Photographs that include landscape, people and other earth-related things alongside an astronomical subject ranging from the stars, the Moon or near-Earth phenomena such as the aurora.
  • Our Solar System – Imagery which captures the Sun and its family of planets, moons, asteroids and comets.
  • Deep Space – Pictures that capture anything beyond the Solar System, including stars, nebulae and galaxies.
  • Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year – Pictures taken by budding astronomers under the age of 16 years old.

There are also three special prizes: People and Space recognises the best photo featuring people in the shot; The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer is awarded to the best photo by an amateur astrophotographer who has taken up the hobby in the last year and who has not entered an image into the competition before; and Robotic Scope, acknowledges the best photo 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.

The competition is powered by the photo-sharing website Flickr. Photographers can enter online by visiting www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto and each entrant may submit up to five images to the competition.

Note to Editors

  • The winners of Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 will be announced at an award ceremony at the Royal Observatory on 17 September 2014. The winning photographs will be exhibited in the Astronomy Centre from 18 September 2014. Entry to the exhibition is free.
  • The overall winner will receive £1500. Category winners will receive £500. There are also prizes for runners-up (£250) and highly commended (£125) entries. The Special Prize winners will receive £350, with an £125 prize for the People and Space Special Prize runner-up. All of the winning entries will receive a one year subscription to Sky at Night Magazine. To view the entries online please visit www.flickr.com/groups/astrophoto.
  • 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 Observatory galleries and Peter Harrison Planetarium help unravel the extraordinary phenomena of time, space and astronomy.
  • The Royal Observatory Greenwich is part of Royal Museums Greenwich which also incorporates the National Maritime Museum, the 17th-century Queen’s House and Cutty Sark. Royal Museums Greenwich works to illustrate for everyone the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people. This unique collection of attractions, which form a key part of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site, welcomes over 1.5 million British and international visitors a year and is also a major centre of education and research.
  • 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 Chris Lintott, Pete Lawrence, Paul Abel and Chris North and covers the latest discoveries in astrophysics, practical night-sky observing guides and equipment reviews. It is the definitive publication for astronomers of every level.

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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 beyond Earth and the origins of the universe.

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

For further information, images please contact:

Royal Observatory Greenwich Press Office

Tel: 020 8312 6545/ 6789 /6790 | 07960 509 802 or email: press@rmg.co.uk