"The Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex, known as 'Rho Oph' for short or the Ophiuchus Molecular Cloud, is named after a bright star in the region," explains winning photographer Artem Mironov.

"It is a dark emission and reflection nebula about 14 light years across that is located about 460 light years away from Earth in the constellation of Ophiuchus (the 'Serpent-Bearer'). It is one of the closest star-forming regions to the Solar System.

The Rho Ophiuchi Clouds © Artem Mironov

"The image was taken at a farm in Namibia near Gamsberg Mountain over three nights."

Equipment used: Sky-Watcher 200 mm f/4 reflector telescope, Sky-Watcher HEQ5 Pro mount, Canon 5D Mark II camera, ISO 1600, 15-hour total exposure

This is a superb photograph and a deserved winner of its category and the competition.

The photographer has produced a beautiful balance between the blue reflection nebula in the lower left and the red emission nebula in the upper right. A dark-looking dust cloud forces itself in front of them, dividing the scene in two.

The image is superbly processed, with the stars sharp from edge to edge. The result is an image that has an elegant complexity to it – simply exquisite.”

Pete Lawrence, competition judge

See all the past winners

Take a trip back in space and time and find out more about past winners of Astronomy Photographer of the Year