The highly commended images for the Deep Space category of the 2009 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.

The Deep Space category is for photos of anything beyond our Solar System, including stars, nebulae and galaxies. Long-exposure photography is the best way to see and capture colour views of our distant neighbourhood; visit How to photograph deep space objects for expert tips.

Highly commended Deep Space 2009 photographers

The 2009 Deep Space overall winner, Martin Pugh (UK), was also highly commended by the judges for his ‘Galatic Dust in Corona Australis’ photo. Pugh's shot of two blue-reflection nebulae – clouds of dust scattering the light of nearby stars – was ‘a great challenge to image the entire region at high resolution,’ according to the astrophotographer. The nebulae are associated with young stars, not more than a few million years old. A much older globular cluster of thousands of stars can be seen at the top right.

Also highly commended was Michael Sidonio (Australia), for his ‘Centaurus-A: Ultra-Deep Field’ image. All the stars seen in the foreground of this photo are from our own Milky Way, with the Centaurus-A galaxy in the centre, millions of light years beyond. At some time in the past Centaurus-A has merged with another, smaller galaxy and the debris from this collision forms the rusty brown band of dust across its middle.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition

The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is an annual global search for the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos by amateur and professional astrophotographers. The winning images are showcased in a stunning exhibition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. 

Visit the IAPY 2015 exhibition