Astronomy Photographer of the Year is open to everyone. All you need is a camera or phone and an eye for a stunning shot.
The competition showcases the world's best space photography, from spectacular skyscapes to mind-blowing images of distant planets and galaxies.
Every year, photographers from across the globe compete to be part of the final exhibition and take home the prestigious title.
About the competition
Competition opening date: 11 January 2021
Competition closing date: 12pm GMT (midday) 5 March 2021
Photographers of all skill levels are invited to submit up to 10 images to the competition.
There are separate photography prizes open to adults, young photographers and astrophotography newcomers. A full list of competition categories is below.
All entrants have a chance of winning cash prizes, seeing their image displayed in an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, a year’s subscription to BBC Sky at Night magazine, and a copy of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year publication.
Explore spectacular winning images from previous competitions and our latest exhibition at the National Maritime Museum to see examples of award-winning astrophotography images.
- The competition is free to enter via our online entry site here
- If you are new to the competition, you’ll need to register and set up a competition account
- The Adult competition is open to anyone aged 16 and over, and the Young competition is open to anyone under 16
- You may submit a total of 10 images to be considered
- There will be a £10 fee per entrant. Entrants to the Young Competition and special prizes are exempt
- The overall winner's prize across all Adult categories is £10,000. Keep reading this page for full details about the prizes on offer.
The full competition rules are available here. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The different categories are listed below. For further details, check the competition rules.
Adult competition categories
- Aurorae: Photographs featuring the northern and southern lights (Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis)
- Galaxies: Photographs of deep-space objects beyond the Milky Way galaxy, including galaxies, galaxy clusters and stellar associations
- Our Moon: Photographs of the Moon, including lunar eclipses and the occultation of stars and planets.
- Our Sun: Photographs of the Sun, including solar eclipses and transits.
- People and Space: Photographs of the night sky that include people or elements that show the presence or influence of human beings
- Planets, Comets and Asteroids: Photographs of objects in our solar system, including planets and their satellites, comets, asteroids and other forms of zodiacal debris
- Skyscapes: Photographs of landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes in which the night sky or twilight sky is a prominent feature
- Stars and Nebulae: Photographs of deep-space objects in the Milky Way galaxy, including stars, star clusters, supernova remnants, nebulae and other galactic phenomena
There are no separate categories in the Young competition. The Young competition will have one winner, one runner-up and three highly commended awards.
The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer: For newcomers who have only been practising astronomy photography since January 2020, are aged 16 or over, and have not entered the competition before.
The Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation: For images processed using pre-existing open source data. Find out more about this category here.
There are eight different categories for adult photographers to enter. The judges will select a winner, runner-up and one highly commended entry from each category. These will receive the following prize money:
- Winner: £1500
- Runner-up: £500
- Highly commended: £250
The judges will select a winner, runner-up and three highly commended images in the Young Competition.
- Young Winner: £1500 and a Celestron Astromaster 130EQ MD telescope
- Young Runner-up: £500
- Young Highly Commended: £250
The judges will also award two Special Prizes: the Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer and the Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation. Both winners will receive £750.
The overall winner is chosen from amongst all the Adult competition category winners. This winner receives £10,000 and the title of Astronomy Photographer of the Year.
All winners will also receive:
- Their winning image displayed in an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum
- One year’s subscription to BBC Sky at Night magazine
- A copy of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year publication.
Director of the New Crescent Society
Astrophotographer and astronomer at Las Campanas Observatory.
Journalist, science communicator and Social Media Officer for the Institute of Physics.
Comedian, impersonator and regular guest on The Sky at Night.
Senior Manager of Public Astronomy at Royal Museums Greenwich.
Fine art photographer.
Architect, Chairman of the Hungarian Astrophotographers' Association and the Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2019 Overall Winner.
Education, Outreach and Diversity officer for the Royal Astronomical Society.
Art Editor at the BBC Sky at Night Magazine, which launched in 2005.
Senior Curator of Arts at Royal Museums Greenwich.
Director of Fleet Street’s Finest and Chair of the UK Picture Editors Guild.
Keep in touch
Sign up to our space newsletter to keep up to date with the latest news about the competition and exhibition.
See the winning images from the 2020 competition
Meet the winners
Hear from past entrants about what it means to win Astronomy Photographer of the Year