The winner of Astronomy Photographer of the Year 13 has been revealed.

The remarkable winning images were revealed in a virtual awards ceremony on Thursday 16 September 2021. 

From amazing aurorae to glittering galaxies, each year Astronomy Photographer of the Year celebrates the world's greatest space photography.

Find out more about all the winning entries below, and visit the new Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition at the National Maritime Museum from 18 September.

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The winning photographer

The golden ring of the sun in an annular eclipse

Shuchang Dong has been crowned the overall winner of Astronomy Photographer of the Year for this mesmerising photograph The Golden Ring.

The image shows an annular solar eclipse taken in the Ali region of Tibet on 21 June 2020.

"This place has year-round sunny weather, but in front of the annular eclipse, I saw dark clouds all over the sky," recalls photographer Shuchang Dong.

"We were waiting with anxious minds but we were lucky. Within a minute of the annular eclipse, the sunshine penetrated through the clouds and afterwards the Sun was sucked into the thick clouds. We were so lucky here!"

The judges praised the image for combining the science, art and technological ingenuity of astronomy photography.

"Our Sun can still be seen as a ring circling the Moon as it passes in front of the Sun, and mountains on the lunar surface can be seen hiding some of this light on the lower righthand portion of the image," points out judge Emily Drabek-Maunder. 

Fellow judge Steve Marsh calls it "moody, serene, perfectly captured and expertly processed. You feel as if you could reach into the sky and place this onto your finger."

See the full Our Sun shortlist

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Green aurorae dance over the sea in front of a ship

Aurorae winner

Polar Lights Dance by Dmitrii Rybalka (Russia)

“I'm intrigued by this image. It is both beautiful but extremely unsettling. The juxtaposition of the vividness of the green with the inky blue of the ship is so dense, almost like velvet. However the lack of any sign of human life on this steadily moving vessel feels like the opening scene of a science fiction film.”

- Sue Prichard, competition judge and Senior Curator, Arts at Royal Museums Greenwich

The Milky Ring by Zhong Wu

Galaxies winner

The Milky Ring by Zhong Wu (China)

“This cosmic circle is one of the most breathtaking entries we saw this year. The balance of colours, from the glowing upper half of the ring, to the darker, moodier bottom half, seems to encompass a whole range of majesty and beauty. The dedication of the photographer, who took almost two years to piece this picture together, must be applauded too.”

- Imad Ahmed, competition judge and director of the New Crescent Society

See the full Galaxies shortlist

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Beyond the Limb by Nicolas Lefaudeux

Our Moon winner

Beyond the Limb by Nicolas Lefaudeux (France)

“This is how the Solar System might look to a space traveller. Cosmic distance and celestial objects can be seen from a new perspective in one single image.” 

- László Francsics, competition judge and chairman of the Hungarian Astrophotographers' Association

A girl sits behind bi-folding doors overlooking a garden. Star trails cross the sky above

People and Space winner

Lockdown by Deepal Ratnayaka (UK)

“This picture made me emotional because it is a beautiful snapshot of what we as humans collectively experienced during this pandemic – being confined within our four walls gazing thoughtfully out of our windows in hope. A beautifully moving image.”

- Melissa Brobby, competition judge and Social Media Officer for the Institute of Physics

See the full People and Space shortlist

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A dark photograph of the night sky with a horizontal flash of purple light from a meteor

Planets, Comets and Asteroids winner

A Colourful Quadrantid Meteor by Frank Kuszaj (USA)

“A unique image of a colourful meteor. No doubt this is one of the luckiest captures out there, but at the same time there is an absolutely amazing and inspiring story behind the image. Hard work, some share of luck and great image processing.”

- Yuri Beletsky, competition judge and nightscape photographer

Crescent Moon rising above sand dunes

Skyscapes winner

Luna Dunes by Jeffrey Lovelace (USA)

“This image was one of my favourites this year. It is beautifully composed with the subtle textures in the sand and sky complementing the crescent well. I loved the colours too – navy blue and gold – giving this picture a regal touch.”

- Imad Ahmed

See the full Skyscapes shortlist

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Rainbow image of the California Nebulae

Stars and Nebulae winner

California Dreamin' NGC 1499 by Terry Hancock (UK)

“The colour choices made in the capture and processing of this image are beautiful enough on their own, yet they are not just for show and reveal much more about the nebula itself. A brilliant idea with brilliant execution.”

- Steve Marsh, competition judge and Art Editor for BBC Sky at Night magazine

Composite image showing the different planets in our Solar System

Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year winner

Family Photo of the Solar System by 至璞 王, aged 15 (China)

“All families are unconventional, so I adored this fresh, gently playful concept around the Solar System. A meaningful, technically accomplished work from a rising star of astronomical photography.”

- Sue Prichard

See the full shortlist

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An astronomy photograph showing Falcon 9 soaring past the moon

The Manju Mehrotra Family Trust Prize for Best Newcomer

Falcon 9 soars past the Moon by Paul Eckhardt (USA)

“The right target, the right moment, the right composition. These three aspects make this image a special one among many astrophotos and many spacecraft transit lunar images. This image couldn’t be planned – it is a result of good situational awareness of a talented photographer.”

- László Francsics

 

The Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation - joint winners

An abstract, black and white astronomy photograph, showing a grid of fractured images adapted from satellite data

Celestial Fracture by Leonardo Di Maggio (UK)

“The grace of Saturn and its magnificent rings still remains even when presented as an angular jigsaw shattered into smithereens. A striking piece of art which would look fantastic taking up the entire wall of a skyscraper lobby.”

- Jon Culshaw, competition judge, comedian and guest on BBC’s The Sky at Night

A stretched view of the surface of the planet Jupiter

Another Cloudy Day on Jupiter by Sergio Díaz Ruiz (Spain)

"This image takes the Annie Maunder Prize to a new level this year! By using real data from a NASA research programme, the entrant has managed to encode the filters used to study Jupiter into shape and colour, creating a new and unique way to see the largest planet in our solar system!"

–  Emily Drabek-Maunder, competition judge

See the full shortlist

Rainbow image of the California Nebulae

Visit the exhibition

See the world's greatest space photography – visit the new exhibition at the National Maritime Museum from 18 September

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