One of the world’s greatest natural wonders, aurorae provide inexhaustible sources of inspiration for astrophotographers.

Caused by the interaction between the Sun and the Earth’s magnetic fields, aurorae can have many colours, from green and red to pink and purple, which are caused by the different gases in our atmosphere.

But photographing aurorae is not without its challenges: the spectacle is not guaranteed every night, and only occurs at specific points on Earth.

The images in this year’s Aurorae category capture the majesty and ephemeral nature of these phenomena. Take a look at the winning and shortlisted images below.

Visit Astronomy Photographer of the Year

The winning image

In the Embrace of a Green Lady by Filip Hrebenda

Northern lights over a rocky mountain in Iceland

Image taken in Hvalnes, Iceland

"I took this photo during the late spring in one of my favourite places in Iceland," Filip remembers.

"The photo shows the dancing Aurora Borealis, reflected in a little frozen lake, above the Eystrahorn mountain."

Equipment used: Sony ILCE-7RM3A camera, 16 mm f/2.8, ISO 2500; Sky: 5-second exposure; Foreground: 20-second exposure

From the beautiful positions and deep azure colours of the ice shards to the sweeping arc of the aurora above them, this photo has it all. Just stunning.

Steve Marsh, competition judge


Misty Green River by Fred Bailey

Image taken near Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada

"I went out one September evening to set up a time-lapse of the aurora over Cameron River in Canada’s Northwest Territories. With that done, I had time to take some still photos," says Fred.

"I am always amazed at the reflections that a bright aurora adds to the foreground, giving everything a green cast. This photo also shows the differentiation between the aurora and the dark sky."

Equipment used: Pentax K-5 II S camera, 18 mm f/3.5, ISO 1600, 15-second exposure

I loved the composition of this shot, balancing motion and stillness. The aurora appears to be arrested and held in the middle of the sky, only to pour down onto the trees and into Cameron River below.

Imad Ahmed, competition judge

Highly commended

Winged Aurora by Alexander Stepanenko

Image taken in Murmansk, Murmansk Oblast, Russia

"I dreamed of taking this picture back in 2021, but the glow was either weak or in the wrong direction," Alexander remembers.

"On this night my dream came true: bright, beautiful and directly above me – a ‘winged aurora’ crowning the mountain!"

Equipment used: Nikon D850 camera, 12 mm f/4, ISO 3200, 1.6-second exposure

Aurora pictures are always beautiful to look at, but never have such images stopped me in my tracks like this one. This wonderfully fortunate capture is simplistic in its beauty but the sheer majesty of the Winged Aurora looming over the mountain is breathtaking. I haven’t stopped looking at this picture in awe.

Melissa Brobby, competition judge

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