Renowned impressionist, comedian and amateur astronomer, Jon Culshaw, has been welcomed onto the judging panel of Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015 competition.

Star of television and radio shows - including Dead Ringers, 2DTV, and Doctor Who - Jon Culshaw, has joined Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Chris Lintott and the Royal Observatory’s Dr Marek Kukula, on the judging panel for the competition in 2015. Although best known for his comedy, Culshaw has a lifelong love of astronomy and is a keen amateur astronomer, as well as appearing as a regular guest on BBC Four’s flagship astronomy programme, The Sky at Night, and writing the monthly column, ‘Exoplanet Excursions’ for BBC Sky at Night Magazine.

Of his new role, Culshaw said,

I have marvelled at the incredible images entered into the competition in previous years. I'm thrilled and honoured to be on the judging panel for 2015. These photos give you the feeling of exploring the universe without a Tardis.

Now in its seventh year, the newly expanded competition, which was open for entries from January to April, has attracted the highest number of entries since it opened. Over 2700 spectacular images have been submitted from over 60 countries across the globe in its nine main categories, and the number of images entered into the competition has increased by 59% on last year.

The winning images will be showcased in the annual free exhibition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich from 18 September 2015.

Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich and judge in the competition said:

This year the competition is a little different, with some brand new categories that reflect the ways in which astrophotography is changing and evolving, and the entrants have responded with a huge range of fantastic images, covering everything from aurorae here on Earth to distant galaxies millions of light years away.

In 2014, James Woodend (UK) won with his astonishing image portraying a vivid green aurora dancing across the Icelandic night sky and reflected symmetrically in the glacial Jökulsarlon lagoon of Vatnajökull National Park. Other placed images from 2014 on display include a breath-taking view of the Earth taken from the brink of space (87,000 feet above the ground), with the help of a high altitude balloon launched from Boulder, Colorado by Patrick Cullis (USA); the snaking swirls of superheated gas on the boiling surface of the Sun captured by Alexandra Hart (UK); and a stark yet opulent portrayal of the rock formations of the Wairarapa district in New Zealand, contrasting with the dusty clouds dancing across the Milky Way photographed by Chris Murphy (New Zealand), winner of the Sir Patrick Moore prize for Best Newcomer.

Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015 has nine main categories:

  • Skyscapes sponsored by Insight Investment: 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.

The competition is powered by the photo-sharing website Flickr. Photographers entered online and each entrant could submit up to five images to the competition.

Notes to Editors

  • The winners of Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015 will be announced at an award ceremony at the Royal Observatory on 17 September 2015. The winning photographs will be exhibited in the Astronomy Centre from 18 September 2015. Entry to the exhibition is free.
  • The overall winner will receive £2,500. The winner of ‘Skyscapes sponsored by Insight Investment’ will receive £1000, with £500 and £250 going to the runner up and highly commended entries, respectively. Winners of all other categories and the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year will receive £500. There are also prizes for runners-up (£250) and highly commended (£125) entries. The Special Prize winners will receive £350. 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. 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.
  • 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 1.5 million British and international visitors a year and is also a major centre of education and research. 
  • 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 £383bn ($569bn) across fixed income, liability-driven investment, absolute return, cash management, multi-asset, specialist equity and currency strategies.Insight is owned by BNY Mellon, a global leader in investment management and investment services with $1.7 trillion in assets under management. 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.Insight’s 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 and Pareto Investment Management Limited, which became part of the Insight group on 1 January 2013. Data as at 31 March 2015.
  • BBC Sky at Night Magazine has become Britain's best-selling astronomy title since launch in 2005, with 16,000 subscribers and an average monthly circulation of 24,000 copies a month. skyatnightmagazine.com has 33,000 unique users a month and reaches more than 25,000 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 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. 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 4 on 18 September 2015. 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 2015 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 3/ RRP £25.00 / Hardback / Published 19 September 2014. For further information or to request review copies please contact: Caroline Maddison/caroline.maddison@harpercollins.co.uk / DL: 0208 307 4783

-ends-

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, or images from last year’s competition, please contact:

Royal Observatory Greenwich Press Office | Tel: 020 8312 6545/6790 | 07983 512 841 | Email: rdavies@rmg.co.uk

Find out more information about Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year

More information on Insight Investment

More information on BBC Sky at Night Magazine