The highly commended images for the Deep Space category of the 2012 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 2012 photographers

Two photographers who were highly commended by the judges for their Deep Space photos were Robert Franke (USA) and Oleg Bryzgalov (Ukraine).

Franke was highly commended for two works. The first, ‘The Perseus Cluster – Abell 426’, offers an astonishing view of deep space, showing our own Milky Way galaxy and, far beyond, at a staggering distance of almost 250 million light years, the myriad galaxies of the Perseus Cluster, also known as Abell 426. The second, ‘NGC 6960 – The Witch's Broom’ shows the glowing debris from a supernova explosion (the violent death of a massive star) that’s part of the Veil Nebula.

Bryzgalov, meanwhile, was highly commended for his ‘Sharpless-136 Ghost in Cepheus’ photograph. The image shows that dust clouds like these are an important component of the Milky Way Galaxy, filling huge volumes of space between the stars.

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