Awards announced 15 September 2016; exhibition of winning images opens 17 September 2016.

Venus and the Moon overlook the International Space Station streaking across the sky over France, new stars are born in the swirling pink clouds of the Lagoon Nebula lying some 5,000 light years away, a Royal Spoonbill basks in the glow of the almost Full Moon; Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 has received more outstanding pictures than ever before. The competition, which is run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in association with Insight Investment and BBC Sky at Night Magazine, is now in its eighth year and continues to go from strength to strength, receiving a record number of over 4500 spectacular entries from enthusiastic amateurs and professional photographers from over 80 countries spanning the globe.

Shortlisted images from this year’s entrants include the breathtaking sight of the Perseid Meteor Shower shooting across the sky appearing to cascade from Mount Shasta in California, USA; the Universe providing the sensational natural light show of the Aurora Australis to welcome in the New Year over Nugget Point on the Otago Coast of New Zealand; and the dramatic moment that our star, the Sun, appeared to be cloaked in darkness by the Moon during the Total Solar Eclipse of 9th March 2016 in Indonesia.

The range of locations is not just limited to our planet. Photographers have also captured sights from across our Solar System, galaxy and the wider universe; from the tempestuous storms visible across the face of our Solar System’s largest planet, Jupiter, looming in the night sky; to the luminous tangle of filaments of Pickering’s Triangle, one of the main visual elements of a supernova remnant in the Veil Nebula, whose source exploded around 8,000 years ago; to the starburst galaxy of M82, also known as the Cigar Galaxy, lying some 12 million light years away from our planet where a plethora of stars are being created.

Turner Prize winning artist, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Oana Sandu of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) were welcomed to the judging panel this year, joining renowned comedian and keen amateur astronomer Jon Culshaw, Editor of BBC Sky at Night Magazine Chris Bramley, the Royal Observatory’s Public Astronomer Dr Marek Kukula and a host of experts in the worlds of art and astronomy. The winners of the competition’s nine categories and two special prizes will be announced on Thursday 15 September at a special award ceremony at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. The winning images will be displayed in a free of charge exhibition at the Observatory’s Astronomy Centre from Saturday 17 September. Winners and shortlisted entries will also be published in the competition’s official book, available on 3 November from bookstores and online. The awards ceremony can be followed live on Twitter #astrophoto2016.

Notes to editors:

1. Competition Categories:

  • Overall winner – Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016
  • 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.

The judges will also award two special prizes:

  • The Sir Patrick Moore prize for Best Newcomer: Photos taken by people who have taken up the hobby in the last year and have not entered an image into the competition before. The judges will give special consideration to those using simple and inexpensive start-out kit.
  • Robotic Scope Image of the Year: Photos 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.

2. 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.

3. The overall winner will receive £10,000. Winners of all other categories and 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.

4. 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. Visitors can stand in both the eastern and western hemispheres simultaneously by placing their feet either side of the Prime Meridian line. Today the Observatory galleries and Peter Harrison Planetarium help unravel the extraordinary phenomena of time, space and astronomy.

5. 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 2.5 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.

6. 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 £440bn ($632bn) across liability-driven investment, fixed income & currency, global multi-asset and absolute return, global farmland and specialist equities (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). CISC and CAMC are owned by BNY Mellon and operated by Insight. Data as of 31 March 2016). 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. www.insightinvestment.com

7. BBC Sky at Night Magazine is Britain's best-selling astronomy title, with a circulation of 25,000 copies a month. skyatnightmagazine.com has 34,000 unique users a month and reaches more than 35,000 social media followers through Facebook and Twitter. The magazine is available on iTunes Newsstand, Google Play and Zinio as well as in print, 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 and Pete Lawrence, plus in-depth equipment reviews and stargazing advice. BBC Sky at Night Magazine is published by Immediate Media Co under licence from BBC Worldwide.

8. The Royal Observatory, in partnership with Collins, will be publishing Astronomy Photographer Of The Year, Collection 5 on 3 November 2016. The official publication for the Insight Astronomy Photography of the Year competition will showcase over 130 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: Alice Crespi/ alice.crespi@harpercollins.co.uk / DL: 0208 305 4252

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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’ and the origins of the universe.

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

For further information or images, please contact:

Rhianon Davies, Royal Observatory Greenwich Press Office

Tel: 020 8312 6545 | 07983 512 841 or Email: rdavies@rmg.co.uk