2) How to enter
a. Adult competition
b. Young competition
a. Adult prize categories
b. Young prize categories
10) Governing law
12) Invalid entries
1. The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition and exhibition are organised and owned by the Board of Trustees of the National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich, London, SE10 9NF. The Board of Trustees of the National Maritime Museum is the legal body that represents Royal Museums Greenwich (‘RMG’), which encompasses the competition organiser Royal Observatory Greenwich, the National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House and Cutty Sark. ‘RMG’ is used to refer to the Board of Trustees of the National Maritime Museum throughout the rules.
2. The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is sponsored by Liberty Specialty Markets (the ‘Sponsor’).
3. The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition’s media partner (the ‘Media Partner’) is BBC Sky at Night Magazine, published by Immediate Media Company Limited under licence from BBC Studios.
4. The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is open to anyone except those involved in its organisation and employees (and their immediate family) of RMG, BBC Sky at Night Magazine, and the Sponsor. Judges (or their immediate families) of the competition are also restricted from entering the competition.
a) Adult competition
- Entries to the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 16 competition open on Thursday 4th January 2024 and must be received by midday (GMT) on Tuesday 5th March 2024 (the ‘Closing Date’).
- A one-off non-refundable Entry Fee of £10.00 (the ‘Entry Fee’) is required from each entrant. Entrants who only enter the special prizes will not have to pay an Entry Fee.
- The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is hosted on the RMG website and all entries must be submitted online via the entry form at apy.rmg.co.uk.
- Adult Entrants must be aged 16 or over on the Closing Date of the competition. (There is an exception for The Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation. This special prize is open to Adult Entrants, Young Entrants and Group Entrants (together, the ‘Entrants’).)
- Entries (the ‘Image’ or the ‘Entry’) must be submitted to a category or a prize in accordance with the guidelines of that category or prize. See sections 4 and 5 for more details.
b) Young competition
- Entries to the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 16 Young competition open on Thursday 4th January 2024 and must be received by midday (GMT) on Tuesday 5th March 2024 (the ‘Closing Date’).
- Entry is free to the Young competition.
- Young Entrants must be aged 15 or under on the Closing Date of the competition. (There is an exception for The Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation. This special prize is open to Entrants of all ages.)
- The consent of a parent or guardian is required for all Young Entrants. By entering the Young competition, it is trusted that all Young Entrants have obtained consent from their parent or guardian. Parents or guardians will be contacted to confirm their consent when Young Entrants subscribe to the competition.
- The Astronomy Photographer of the Year Young competition is hosted on the RMG website and all entries must be submitted online via the entry form at apy.rmg.co.uk.
- Entries may feature any astronomical subject.
1. Entrants may submit up to ten photos in total to the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 16 competition.
2. Image entries can be submitted to multiple categories.
3. By submitting an entry, each Entrant agrees to these competition rules and guarantees that they are the sole copyright owner or representative of the Image. If RMG, the Sponsor and/or the Media Partner have any claims brought against them due to your breach of this guarantee, you will be required to compensate them in full for any losses and costs incurred due to those claims.
4. For details on using third party data for The Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation please see section 6.
5. Group entries are permitted (‘Group Entrants’):
i. groups must nominate one person (‘Lead Entrant’) to represent them in communication and submit entries on behalf of the group, if no such person is expressly nominated it will be assumed that whoever operates the email account associated with the entry is the nominated representative;
ii. Group Entrants must indicate they are representing a group in the entry form;
iii. each Group Entrant must have one representative member (the ‘Lead Entrant’) to represent the group in communication and shall ensure that they have the written consent of all the copyright holders to enter the Image and may be requested to provide evidence of this; and
iv. in cases where a school group is being represented, one student or a teacher should do the submission on behalf of the group.
6. By submitting Images via this website you confirm to RMG that each Image:
i. was taken and processed by you, or by a group of which you are an active participant;
ii. does not contain any data that was not generated through photography (defined as the collection of radiant energy on a digital or chemical sensor);
iii. is your or your group's original work;
iv. does not infringe the copyright or any other rights of any third party (particularly in relation to the use of robotic telescopes and open source data);
v. has written consent from any individuals identifiable in the Image;
vi. does not contain any obscene or defamatory content or material; and
vii. was taken after 1 January 2023 (unless entered into The Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation).
7. Unnatural, digitally enhanced, composites are eligible for entry to the competition but the judging panel may ask about your processing method if your photo is shortlisted. Please provide details of digital enhancements and composites in the Image description - undeclared composites may be disqualified for dishonesty and misrepresentation
8. Images taken with publicly or privately operated remote telescopes can be entered into the main competition categories. Please provide ownership details in the Image description.
9. We prefer that photos that have been submitted to or picked up by a news agency, picture agency or any media outlet for distribution are not entered into the competition. This also applies to photos that use a substantial amount of data from an Image which has been submitted to a news agency or picture agency. Shortlisted images will be asked not to submit their images to such agencies and outlets. This will enable RMG to use its global reach to support shortlisted and winning images. This rule includes both Images published in print (e.g. magazines) or online (excluding social media usage and Astronomy Photograph of the Day (APOD)).
10. The following Images are not eligible for entry in to the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition:
i. photos taken before 1 January 2023 (unless entered into The Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation);
ii. photos that have been entered in previous years of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition or Astronomy Photographer of the Year Young competition;
iii. photos that have been published in other competitions. If you have entered your Images into a competition which might publish it and are waiting for the results, please do not enter it into the competition – it is not eligible. Examples of ineligible competitions and publications include The World at Night (TWAN), BBC Sky at Night Magazine, Sky and Telescope Magazine, etc. Please note that Images that have won prizes in other competitions are eligible as long as the Images have not been published;
iv. Images incorporating data captured by organisations (e.g. NASA, ESA, ESO, etc.), but processed by the Entrant are only eligible for The Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation. They cannot be entered into other categories.
11. Using data from before 1 January 2023 is permitted, as long as a substantial (greater than 50% of the total exposure time) portion of the Images is created using data captured after this date. If data used in an Image was captured before 1 January 2023, please state roughly what percentage of the total data it constitutes.
12. Generative imagery and ‘AI Art’ are not eligible for submission.
i. Images must consist of genuine astronomical data captured via observation using photographic equipment. The addition of weather effects, astronomical targets, or any other data generated by an AI network is forbidden.
ii. The use of machine learning software, such as Pixinsight and plugins including Starnet++; StarXTerminator; NoiseXTerminator; Topaz DeNoize AI; and similar editing aids that do not add additional data are permitted but must be declared. Undeclared use of these and similar tools may lead to disqualification for dishonesty and misrepresentation.
iii. AI tools may be used in the processing of Open Source astronomical data for entry in the Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation. Undeclared use of these and similar tools may lead to disqualification for dishonesty and misrepresentation.
iv. Images captured using equipment featuring AI image-enhancement tools and generative image-creation firmware/software that cannot be deactivated, such as certain smartphone brands, are not eligible.
13. Images should be submitted as high res TIFF or JPEG files.
a) Adult competition categories
- There are eight main categories in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. Each of these categories will have one winner, one runner-up and one highly commended award. Each of the eight category winners will be put forward for consideration to receive the overall winning prize and title of Astronomy Photographer of the Year 16.
- Images can be submitted to the following eight categories:
i. Aurorae. Photographs featuring the northern and southern lights (Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis);
ii. Galaxies. Photographs of deep-space objects beyond the Milky Way galaxy, including galaxies, galaxy clusters and stellar associations;
iii. Our Moon. Photographs of the Moon, including lunar eclipses and the occultation of stars and planets. Images of the Moon alongside earthly scenery may also be entered into this category, or into Skyscapes;
iv. Our Sun. Photographs of the Sun, including solar eclipses and transits. Images of the Sun alongside earthly scenery may also be entered into this category, or into Skyscapes;
v. People and Space. Photographs of the night sky that include people or elements that show the presence or influence of human beings;
vi. Planets, Comets and Asteroids. Photographs of objects in our solar system, including planets and their satellites, comets, asteroids and other forms of zodiacal debris. Images of the Moon, Sun and Earth should not be entered into this category;
vii. Skyscapes. Photographs of landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes in which the night sky or twilight sky is a prominent feature. Star trails and images of noctilucent and nacreous clouds, halos, meteors and other upper atmospheric phenomena may also be entered into this category;
viii. Stars and Nebulae. Photographs of deep-space objects in the Milky Way galaxy, including stars, star clusters, supernova remnants, nebulae and other galactic phenomena.
- Where an Image qualifies for more than one category, it is up to the photographer to decide which category they wish to enter it into.
b) Young competition
- There are no competition categories in the Young competition. The Young competition will have one winner, one runner-up and three highly commended awards.
- The winner will be awarded the title of Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year 16. They will not be eligible for the overall winning prize.
- Young Entrants can enter The Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation but not The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer.
1. There are two additional special prizes in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. Images submitted for these prizes may not also be entered in a category. The prizes are:
i. The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer: For newcomers who have only been practising astronomy photography since January 2023, are aged 16 or over, and have not entered the competition before. Any astronomical subject may be depicted. You may enter other images into the categories, but this is your chance for recognition amongst newcomers to astronomy photography. The judges will give special consideration to those using simple and inexpensive start-out kit, so please state this in your photo description. This will help them to better assess the overall standard of your imaging.
ii. The Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation: For images processed by the Entrant(s) using pre-existing open source data not captured by the Entrant(s). See below for further details.
2. Entry is free for Entrants who only enter images into the two special prizes and not the main competition categories.
1. This special prize is open to Entrants of all ages.
2. Images can be of any subject.
3. Images must be processed by the Entrant(s) using pre-existing open source data. Data can be from any time period.
4. There is no restriction on tools used for processing. Entrants are free to use any software, analogue or digital manipulation, or AI processing they choose. Entrants may NOT use AI-generated data or any other artificial data. Failure to disclose all processes may result in disqualification for dishonesty and misrepresentation.
5. Entrants can use multiple sources of data. These sources must be appropriately acknowledged in the Image description.
6. The data must be free open source data (e.g. from NASA, ESA, ESO, etc.), with no restrictions on use, or publication.
7. The data must be captured without any input from the Entrant(s). All interpretation of the data will be done through processing.
8. For more information about how to process pre-existing data or find approved data sources, please visit rmg.co.uk/imageinnovation.
9. You must ensure that you are the sole copyright owner of the submitted image and have cleared all rights with the data supplier. It is your responsibility to ensure that any terms and conditions of the data source entitle you to enter your images into the competition.
10. The data source will be credited according to the terms and conditions on their website.
11. If you are uncertain whether your image qualifies for this prize, please contact the competition organisers for clarification.
1. To make sure that your photos are eligible for the competition shortlist, please ensure:
i. you have completed the relevant online application form, supplying as much detail as possible about your Image(s) in the relevant fields;
ii. your high-resolution TIFF or JPEG photo can, as closely as possible, be reproduced at a minimum of 300dpi, 5,000 pixels and a minimum of 30cm on its longest edge. This is to ensure that your image can be reproduced if it is selected for the exhibition, touring exhibition, publication and/or for promotional purposes. Should your image not meet these requirements it may need to be resized for printing or display which may lead to a reduction in quality and these factors may be taken into consideration during judging. RMG recognises that these requirements may not be met for certain fields of astrophotography such as planetary photography;
iii. your photo does not have a copyright line, name or any watermarks featured anywhere on the image. Images with any such features will be disqualified from the competition.; and
iv. your name is not included in the caption or on the image itself.
2. If your photo is shortlisted, we will contact you via the email address you provided. You may be asked questions about your image during our data checking period. We reserve the right to remove your image from the shortlist if you do not meet our rules or we are concerned about the veracity of your image.
3. If you have not been shortlisted, you will be notified during the week commencing 15th of April 2024.
4. The full shortlist of images will not be revealed until the announcement of the winners.
5. If you are shortlisted, please help us to build excitement around the awards announcement by treating your inclusion in the shortlist as strictly confidential until the press release about the shortlisted images is issued.
6. A press release about the shortlisted images will be issued between June and August featuring only a small selection of the full shortlist. We cannot guarantee which images will be selected for use by the press.
7. Photos shortlisted in the competition must not be submitted to a news agency, picture agency or media outlet until six weeks after the announcement of the winners (i.e. after 12th September 2024) to ensure maximum publicity for the competition. Any Image that has been submitted to any such agency or media outlet must be withdrawn from the agency or outlet. Images that do not do so are at risk of disqualification.
8. The competition organisers will announce the winners online on 12th September 2024. Shortlisted category entrants who are notified that they will be placed as a winner within their category must keep this information confidential until the announcement. Winning places and associated prizes are not considered awarded until after the announcement.
9. All shortlisted Entrants will receive one complimentary copy of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 16 publication. No cash alternative is available. For group entries only one copy of the publication per shortlisted image is guaranteed, any additional copies are supplied at the discretion of the competition organisers.
1. Royal Observatory Greenwich is dedicated to supporting public understanding and education of science. The images submitted to the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition serve as key resources to promote astronomy photography in practice and in order for us to do this we (RMG) need to be able to use your image(s) in certain ways should it be shortlisted.
2. Entrants will retain copyright and moral rights in their submitted images and will therefore retain the rights to sell their images or grant licences to other parties. In all instances, the copyright holder will be credited, wherever practicable, when the image is used and published by RMG and its sponsors. We will use your first and last name as supplied during the entry process (e.g. © photographer’s name). Although RMG will always supply the correct information to third parties (for example to press / media), it cannot accept responsibility for any credit line errors or omissions by these parties.
3. By entering, all Entrants grant RMG a non-exclusive, irrevocable worldwide, royalty-free licence to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, and publish or communicate to the public any image, by any means, entered into the competition:
i. in the process of judging the competition (including the People’s Choice public vote);
ii. in exhibition displays, in relation to both the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 16 competition, exhibition, touring exhibition and related future exhibitions, performances and displays. These exhibition displays may charge admission. Visitor photography will be permitted in exhibitions and touring exhibitions and images may be reproduced and distributed on a worldwide basis through third party social media. RMG is not liable for visitor photography and its outcomes;
iii. in promotional, press and marketing materials (including social media and RMG’s website) to promote and publicise the competition, exhibition and touring exhibition, future related exhibitions and activities, and to promote the understanding of astronomy to a wider audience. This may include publication in international and national media publications and online;
iv. in promotional, press and marketing materials (including social media, websites and national and international media) for touring partners of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year tour to promote the touring exhibition;
v. as part of RMG educational programmes or digital media, in order to introduce and promote the understanding of astronomy to a wider audience;
vi. in any RMG publications about the competition, exhibition and future related exhibitions. These may be produced by RMG, or under license to a third party (who reserves the right to further sub-license such publications) in all editions, languages, territories and media, for which you will receive a free copy of the first UK print edition that your image appears in (limited to one copy per Entrant, regardless of the number of images);
vii. for use in planetarium shows developed and distributed by RMG;
viii. for brand licensed Astronomy Photographer of the Year products for a period of ten years. RMG reserves the right to contact entrants about further brand licensing opportunities;
ix. in merchandising for a period of ten years. Should your image(s) feature in any such merchandise you will receive a one-off payment of £50.00 per image.
x. You may be contacted by the Organisers to discuss further brand image licensing opportunities.
4. In the instance that Entrants are shortlisted, Entrants grant The Sponsor a non-exclusive, irrevocable worldwide, royalty-free licence to use and adapt their shortlisted images for non-commercial use, including (but not limited to) to promote and market the competition and their sponsorship.
5. In the instance that Entrants are shortlisted, Entrants grant the media partner BBC Sky at Night Magazine a non-exclusive, irrevocable worldwide, royalty-free licence to use and adapt their shortlisted images to promote the competition and exhibition online and in print, including in its promotional calendar.
6. Any commercial usage not covered by Clause (3) or Clause (4) would be agreed with the individual photographer on a case by case basis.
7. RMG is committed to processing information in accordance with the current Data Protection Act (DPA). Shortlisted images will be stored securely in appropriate file formats on servers belonging to RMG. The competition interface (apy.rmg.co.uk) is managed by Ten4 Design and hosted by Sundive Networks.
8. Please do not submit your contribution to the competition if you do not wish to grant these rights.
1. Winners will be announced on the 12th of September 2024 and will be notified by email ahead of this date.
2. If your image is selected as one of the winning images, you will be entitled to receive a cash prize (payable in Pounds Sterling). The breakdown of prizes is as follows:
i. Adult competition:
a. Overall Winner £10,000
b. Category Winners £1,500
c. Category Runner-Ups £500
d. Category Highly Commended £250
e. Special Prize Winners £750
ii. Young Competition:
a. Winner £1,500
b. Runner-Up £500
c. Highly Commended £250
d. Special Prize Winners £750
iii. Group winners will receive their prize split equally between the group members.
iv. All prize-winners will also receive a one-year subscription to BBC Sky at Night Magazine for which no cash alternative is available.
v. Prizes are non-transferable and no alternative prizes are available in whole or in part.
vi. Where it is not practicable to pay prize monies, due to international sanctions, lack of appropriate banking, or other reasons outside RMG’s reasonable control RMG reserves the right to withhold prize money.
3. The full names of the winners will be published on the competition website for a period of at least 3 months.
4. The three prize winners in each category will be notified that they have placed ahead of the public announcement. This information is strictly confidential until the night of the awards ceremony, when prize winners will find out which prize they have received (Winner, Runner-Up or Highly Commended).
5. The winning images from all categories will be formally acquired as donations to the NMM Permanent Collections. If you do not want your image to become part of the NMM permanent collection, you will have the opportunity to opt out when you are informed that your image is one of the winning images. The born digital images will be acquired in perpetuity; and be managed and stored in accordance with national museum standards.
6. A selection of shortlist images from the Adult competition and the Young competition will be made available to the public for an online vote following the exhibition opening. These entries will be specially promoted including via social media. The entry with the most votes will win the public vote.
1. Valid wherever legal only, the rules of this competition are subject to the legal and regulatory restrictions imposed under the law of England and Wales and the parties to any dispute or action shall submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English and Welsh courts.
1. RMG will appoint a panel of judges to select the winning photos. Their decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the selection of winners.
2. Should the quality of entries fall below the standard required, the judges reserve the right not to award prizes.
3. The judges come from a range of disciplines; they will be considering images according to criteria comprising technical skills, artistic merit and originality.
4. Where there is reasonable doubt about whether a photograph meets the entry criteria of the competition, or has been taken with the equipment and under the circumstances described on the entry form, the organisers reserve the right to disqualify the image. Wherever possible, the Entrant(s) will be given the opportunity to answer queries from the judges before a final decision on disqualification is made.
1. All entries to the competition must be submitted via the competition website. RMG will not accept images submitted by any other means.
2. No responsibility can be accepted for entries that are lost, delayed, corrupted, damaged, misdirected or incomplete or which cannot be submitted for any technical, delivery or other reason. Proof of submission will not be accepted as proof of receipt. RMG cannot guarantee continuous, uninterrupted or secure access to the website.
3. By submitting your photo for entry into the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 16 competition and for publishing on the website, you confirm that the content of the photo is and will not be taken to be obscene, racist, pornographic, indecent, harassing, threatening or offensive.
4. RMG reserves the right to pre-vet and/or moderate submitted photos on any basis and reserves the right to not display uploaded content to the website or remove, suspend or disable access to photos, at any time, at its sole discretion, without liability or prior notice.
1. RMG shall not be obliged to display photos and shall not be liable for any Entrant’s loss of publicity or enhancement of reputation.
2. RMG and its associated agencies and companies will not be liable for any loss (including, without limitation, indirect, special or consequential loss or loss of profits), expense or damage which is suffered or sustained (whether or not arising from any person’s negligence) in connection with this competition or accepting or using the prize, except for any liability which cannot be excluded by law (including personal injury, death and fraud) in which case that liability is limited to the minimum allowable by law.
3. RMG cannot be held responsible for emails that do not arrive due to an Entrant’s email security settings or restrictions placed by their internet service provider. Entrants must ensure that their settings accept emails from firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. RMG will not store non-shortlisted digital entries or any email correspondence after January 2025.
5. RMG reserves the right to cancel, postpone, or amend the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition and/or exhibition and touring exhibition at any time where circumstances make this unavoidable, but will always use all reasonable endeavours to minimise the effect on participants to avoid undue disappointment.
6. If any of these clauses should be determined to be illegal, invalid or otherwise unenforceable then it shall be severed and deleted from these rules and the remaining clauses shall survive and remain in full force and effect.
2. You can request access to your personal data, or have any inaccuracies rectified, by sending an email to email@example.com. By participating in the competition you agree to the use of your personal data as described here.
3. Entrants will be asked at the time of registration if they would like their contact details added to the RMG mailing list. You are able to opt-out of this at any time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. The Entry Fee is £10.00. This covers submission of up to ten images to the Adult Competition, including entries to the main categories and special prizes.
2. Entry is free to the Young competition. Adult Entrants who only enter the two special prizes are also exempt from the Entry Fee.
3. Please note that we currently only accept payment in Pound Sterling. If we display prices on the Site in foreign currencies as well as Pound Sterling, it is purely for illustrative purposes and the conversion rates are approximate only. If you pay the Entry Fee using a payment card for a foreign currency denominated account, the conversion rate will be that applied by the relevant payment scheme at the time of processing the transaction.
4. The Entry Fee includes VAT and any other applicable taxes.
5. Payments must be made by credit or debit card (please see the relevant part of the Site for a list of those payment cards accepted and method of payment). By submitting a credit or debit card number, you: (a) represent and warrant that your use of the particular card is authorised and that all information that you submit is true and accurate; and (b) authorise us to charge to the card you tendered all amounts payable by you to us based on the services rendered.
6. You may be subject to validation checks and/or third party authorisations depending on your method of payment.
7. The Entry Fee is non-refundable unless RMG cancels the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition owing to circumstances outside its reasonable control. In this instance you will be notified by email and refunded the Entry Fee.
1. By entering your photo to the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 16 competition you are deemed to have accepted the above rules and to have granted the rights to RMG set out above. Please do not submit a photo to the competition unless you are prepared to agree to these terms.
2. Young Competition: By entering the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Young competition your parent or guardian is deemed to have accepted the above rules and granted RMG the above rights in relation to the use of your image(s).
3. These rules prevail in the event of any conflict or inconsistency with any other communications, including advertising or promotional materials.
4. If you have any questions about the rules or competition, please contact RMG at email@example.com or +44 (0)208 858 4422.
Sponsors and partners
Main image: The Running Chicken Nebula © Runwei Xu and Binyu Wang, Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2023