The highly commended images for the Earth and Space category of the 2011 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 2011 Earth and Space category

Three photos were highly commended by the judges for the 2011 Earth and Space category:

‘Meteor at Midnight, Glastonbury Tor’ by Mike Kempsey (UK) captures a momentary flash of the Perseid meteor shower, beside the 15th-century St Michael’s Tower. During the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks each year in August, hundreds of meteors – or shooting stars – can be seen in a single night.  

Also highly commended was ‘Volcanic Aurora’ by Örvar Atli Þorgeirsson (Iceland). A shimmering aurora, resulting from magnetic activity on the Sun, provides a spectacular background to a dramatic volcanic eruption on Earth in this image. A dark cloud of ash at ground level can be seen to the left, while there is bright red lava at the mouth of the volcano. The eruption caused substantial disruption to international travel in the spring of 2010.

‘Red Moon rising over Oxford’, the third highly commended shot, was taken by Andrew Steele (UK). In this image, made up of three overlapping photographs, an incredibly red full moon rises over low clouds in the early evening. At these low angles, the Moon can look much larger than usual because our eyes compare it with familiar objects on the skyline. 

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