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

The Earth and Space category is for photos that include landscape, people or other ‘Earthly' things, together with an astronomical subject. Aurora, such as the aurora borealis (northern lights) are popular phenomenon within this category; see How to photograph aurorae if you’d like to try your hand at capturing these awe-inspiring light shows.

Highly commended for the APY 2009 Earth and Space category

Three photos were highly commended by the judges for the Earth and Space category:

‘Milky Way’ by Nik Szymanek (UK), taken in the Canary Islands, shows the galaxy’s collection of over 200 billion stars, together with clouds of dust and gas. Our own sun is just one of the billions of stars situated within this disc; so when we look out into space we see the Milky Way as a band of bright stars and dark dust encircling the sky.

‘Bow of Orion’ by Karl Johnston (Canada) shows the majestic aurora borealis. Judge Dan Holdsworth said of the image: ‘Through careful composition, which creates a rhythm and symmetry between the veils of movement in the aurora’s light and the silhouetted shapes of the trees, the photograph beautifully expresses something of the strangely musical and trance-like quality within the nature of the auroral experience.’

Also highly commended was ‘Death Valley Star Trails’ by Nikhil Shahi (USA). Although this photograph appears to show a dramatic shower of meteors in the night sky, it is actually a 40-minute exposure of the trails made by the stars as the Earth rotates. The three parallel lines near to the horizon on the left of the photograph are the trails of the stars that make up Orion’s Belt.

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