The winning image for the Earth and Space category of the 2012 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.

Winner of the APY 2012 Earth and Space category

The 2012 overall winner for Earth and Space was Masahiro Miyasaka (Japan), whose ‘Star Icefall’ photograph was taken with a Canon 5D Mark II camera using a Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED MC aspherical lens.

Orion, Taurus and the Pleiades form the backdrop to this eerie frozen landscape. ‘The lines of ice naturally draw your eyes skyward towards the rich star fields above,’ judge Pete Lawrence said.

Though the stars here appear to gleam with a cold, frosty light, bright-blue stars like the Pleiades can be as hot as 30,000 degrees Celsius. ‘The stars fell from the heavens,’ Miyasaka whimsically commented. ‘The stars transformed themselves into an icicle. Stars sleep eternally here.’

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