The Royal Observatory Greenwich, in association with Insight Investment and BBC Sky at Night Magazine, announces the dates for the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 competition – its annual global search for the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos, whether they are striking pictures of vast galaxies millions of light years away, or dramatic images of the night sky much closer to home.

Now in its eighth year, the hugely popular competition will open to entrants on Monday 29 February 2016 and sees an increase in prize money for all of the winners with the overall prize winner taking home £10,000. The competition also welcomes aboard two new judges in the shape of Turner Prize-winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans and the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Oana Sandu.

Turner Prize-winning artist, recent recipient of The Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography for 2015, and fine-art photographer, Wolfgang Tillmans joins the judging panel for the competition in 2016. From childhood Tillmans developed a passion for astronomy, which he says “was my visual initiation. Through astronomy I learned about the importance of careful observation and visual study.” Since 1995 astronomical subject matter is a recurring theme in his exhibitions and books, most notably the 'Venus transit' works of 2004 and 2012 as well as a group of photographs taken at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, which deal with the limits of visibility and digital sensors in astronomy. The combination of a poetic sensibility with a methodical observation of his surroundings that is so prevalent in Tillmans’s work is a quality that is shared with much contemporary astronomical photography, and exemplifies the merging of science and art that is at the heart of the competition. On being a judge on the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year panel for the first time, Tillmans said, “Astrophotography is a language and fascination which unites people across cultures and all ages and I’m excited to see this year's crop of images from around the world.”

Oana Sandu, Community Coordinator for ESO is the second new addition to the panel for 2016. In her role at ESO she is responsible for the promotion of ESO’s outreach products, including images, books, events and podcasts, and manages the social media for the organisation as well as for the Hubble Space Telescope on behalf of ESA (European Space Agency). Oana is a dedicated ambassador for astronomy, nurturing networks such as ESO’s Photo Ambassadors and co-chairing the 2016 Communicating Astronomy with the Public Conference, as a member of the International Astronomical Union. Of her newest role Oana has said, “I am honoured to be joining the high-calibre jury of the 2016 Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition and excited that the European Southern Observatory can contribute to this excellent initiative that has turned people’s eyes to the sky, encouraging them not only to appreciate and understand the beauty of the Universe we live in, but also to capture and share it with others.”

Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 has nine main categories:

  • Skyscapes: Landscape and cityscape images of twilight and the night sky featuring the Milky Way, star trails, meteor showers, comets, conjunctions, constellation rises, halos and noctilucent clouds alongside elements of earthly scenery.
  • Aurorae: Photographs featuring auroral activity.
  • People and Space: Photographs of the night sky including people or a human interest element.
  • Our Sun: Solar images including solar eclipses and transits.
  • Our Moon: Lunar images including lunar eclipses and occultation of planets.
  • Planets, Comets and Asteroids: Everything else in our solar system, including planets and their satellites, comets, asteroids and other forms of zodiacal debris.
  • Stars and Nebulae: Deep space objects within the Milky Way galaxy, including stars, star clusters, supernova remnants, nebulae and other intergalactic phenomena.
  • Galaxies: Deep space objects beyond the Milky Way galaxy, including galaxies, galaxy clusters, and stellar associations.
  • Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Pictures taken by budding astronomers under the age of 16 years old.

There are also two special prizes: The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer is awarded to the best photo by an amateur astrophotographer who has taken up the hobby in the last year and who has not entered an image into the competition before, and Robotic Scope, acknowledges the best photo taken using one of the increasing number of computer-controlled telescopes at prime observing sites around the world which can be accessed over the internet by members of the public.

Entries to the competition must be submitted by 14 April 2016, and the winning images will be showcased in the annual free exhibition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich from 17 September 2016.

Photographers can enter online by visiting www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto and each entrant may submit up to five images to the competition.

Notes to editors

  • The winners of Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 will be announced at an award ceremony at the Royal Observatory on 15 September 2016. The winning photographs will be exhibited in the Astronomy Centre from 17 September 2016. Entry to the exhibition is free.
  • The overall winner will receive £10,000. Winners of all categories including the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year will receive £1,500. There are also prizes for runners-up (£500) and highly commended (£250) entries. The Special Prize winners will receive £750. All of the winning entries will receive a one year subscription to BBC Sky at Night Magazine.
  • The Royal Observatory Greenwich is home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian and one of the most important historic scientific sites in the world. Since its founding in 1675, Greenwich has been at the centre of the measurement of time and space. Today the Observatory galleries and Peter Harrison Planetarium help unravel the extraordinary phenomena of time, space and astronomy.
  • The Royal Observatory Greenwich is part of Royal Museums Greenwich which also incorporates the National Maritime Museum, the 17th-century Queen’s House and Cutty Sark. Royal Museums Greenwich works to illustrate for everyone the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people. This unique collection of attractions, which form a key part of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site, welcomes over two million British and international visitors a year and is also a major centre of education and research. For more information visit www.rmg.co.uk.
  • About Insight Investment: Insight Investment is a leading asset manager focused on designing investment solutions to meet its clients’ needs. Founded in 2002, Insight’s partnership approach has delivered both investment performance and impressive growth in assets under management. Insight manages £400bn ($605bn) across liability-driven investment, fixed income & currency, global multi-asset and absolute return, global farmland and specialist equities*. Insight is owned by BNY Mellon, a global leader in investment management and investment services with $1.6 trillion in assets under management, as at 30 September 2015. The value of investments and any income from them will fluctuate and is not guaranteed (this may be partly due to exchange rate fluctuations). Investors may not get back the full amount invested. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. More information about Insight Investment can be found at: www.insightinvestment.com *Assets under management are represented by the value of cash securities and other economic exposure managed for clients. The assets under management figure represents the combined assets under management of Insight Investment Management (Global) Limited, Pareto Investment Management Limited, Insight Investment Funds Management Limited, Cutwater Investor Services Corporation and Cutwater Asset Management Corporation (Cutwater Asset Management). Cutwater Asset Management is owned by BNY Mellon and operated by Insight. Data as at 30 September 2015.
  • BBC Sky at Night Magazine has become Britain's best-selling astronomy title since launch in 2005, with 25,000 subscribers and average sales of 7,500 copies a month. skyatnightmagazine.com has 33,000 unique users a month and reaches more than 32,000 social media followers through Facebook and Twitter. The magazine is also available on iTunes Newsstand, Google Play and Zinio, and is media partner of the annual Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich. With writing from the world’s leading astronomers and writers, BBC Sky at Night Magazine complements one of the world's longest running TV programmes, The Sky at Night, and features regular articles from its presenters Chris Lintott, Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Pete Lawrence and Paul Abel, plus in-depth equipment reviews and stargazing advice. Every issue also includes the latest episode of The Sky At Night on a covermounted disc. BBC Sky at Night Magazine is published by Immediate Media Co under licence from BBC Worldwide.Follow us on @skyatnightmag
  • The Royal Observatory, in partnership with Collins, will be publishing Astronomy Photographer Of The Year, Collection 5. The official publication for the Insight Astronomy Photography of the Year competition will showcase over 120 breathtaking images of space and the night sky, including all 2016 winning and shortlisted images. Photographs will be accompanied by full details including photographer’s information, location where photographs were taken, technical specifications and judge’s comments. Last years’ prize winning images are still available to buy: Astronomy Photographer Of The Year, Collection 4/ RRP £25.00 / Hardback / Published 5 November 2015 / Royal Museums Greenwich online shop For further information or to request review copies please contact: Caroline Maddison/caroline.maddison@harpercollins.co.uk / DL: 0208 307 4783
  • Wolfgang Tillmans was born in Remscheid, Germany, 1968 and lives and works in Berlin and London. He graduated from Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design in 1992. In 2000 he won the Turner Prize and in 2015 was awarded The Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography. Tillmans was Professor for Interdisciplinary Art at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main (2003-09) and a Trustee at Tate, London (2009-14). He has exhibited across the world with solo presentations at The National Museum of Modern Art, Osaka, Japan and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA, (2015); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf, Germany and Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru (2013);Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2012); Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland (2011) and Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (2010).
  • ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research.

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Media interviews:

The Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Modern Astronomy team is dedicated to the public understanding of science and its experts are available to give radio and TV interviews on astronomy - at the historic Observatory site or in the studio.

The Observatory offers a short notice service to media stations looking for comment/ interviews on any aspect of modern astronomy - discussing new discoveries and space missions, telling people what to look for in this month's night sky, or talking about old favourites like black holes, is there life beyond Earth and the origins of the universe.

For studio quality and interviews at short notice an ISDN line is available.

For further information and images please contact:

Rhianon Davies, Royal Observatory Greenwich Press Office

Tel: 020 8312 6545/6789/6790 | 07983 512 841 or email: rdavies@rmg.co.uk