The highly commended images for the Our Solar System category of the 2009 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.

The Our Solar System category is for photos of our Sun and its family of planets, moons, asteroids and comets. The Moon is a wonderful object to photograph, with constant changes of view throughout the lunar cycle; see our page on How to photograph the Moon for some expert tips. Photographing a comet, meanwhile, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can be achieved with relatively modest equipment; visit How to photograph comets to find out more.

Highly commended 2009 photographers

Nick Smith (UK), the category winner, was also one of the three Our Solar System photographer to be highly commended in 2009:

Smith’s ‘Clavius-Moretus Mosaic’ was another shot of our Moon, whose many craters have been formed by the impact of meteorites, asteroids and comets, and range in size from a few centimetres to hundreds of kilometres across. This composite image, made up of two individual photographs, recalls the landscape seen by Apollo 11 as it approached the Moon’s surface 40 years ago.

‘Comet Holmes’ by Nick Howes (UK) was another image that was highly commended. Comet Holmes (17P/Holmes) has an orbit between Mars and Jupiter and can be seen about every seven years as a very faint object in the sky. ‘This image was taken with friends and neighbours in the garden, watching with binoculars as the laptop was providing a close-up view via my scope and camera.’

The third shot to be highly commended in this category was ‘Saturn’ by Ethan Allen (USA). Saturn is the second largest planet in the Solar System. This image shows clearly the bands of coloured cloud that surround the planet, and its famous rings made up of ice and dust particles.

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