Many astronomers dream of having the opportunity to use multi-million-pound observatories and space probes like Hubble and Cassini. However, these are understandably only available to the scientists and engineers using them for their research.

But all is not lost. The vast majority of the images taken by these cutting-edge instruments are made available to the public – and it’s here that the Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation comes in. 

By taking the unique perspectives of these giants in the field of astronomy and using imagination and creativity, ‘astro-processors’ place their own spin on images, providing a level of innovation that at the same time emulates and commemorates Annie Maunder, an early adopter of astrophotography

In the full shortlist below, expect to see the invisible, as light beyond the reach of the human eye is brought into view, and to enjoy the abstract, as the compositions break the mould of their original purpose. 

Visit Astronomy Photographer of the Year


The winning image

Solar Tree by Pauline Woolley

"The making of this work derived from my research into carbon-14 traces found in some studies of tree-ring dating or dendrochronology," Pauline explains. 

"Twenty-six images of the Sun from the first part of Solar Cycle 25 have been layered to create concentric rings. The oldest ‘ring’ lies in the centre while the most recent sits furthest away. Month by month, the rings expand or ‘grow’ to form the rings of an imaginary solar tree. The overall image is a marking of the passing of time, which incorporates visual evidence of increasing levels of solar activity apparent in the dark markings of solar flares."

Equipment used: Original images from the AIA 0131 Angstrom channel of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) (1 January 2020 to 1 February 2022). Images inverted then converted to black and white and contrast increased. Warm filter applied to give tree-like feeling

Dendrochronology – the scientific method of calculating dates based on tree rings – is used by art historians and conservators to date wood panel paintings, but here the technology has been utilized to create an unusual and beautiful composition. This is an innovative photograph that immediately astonished all the judges.

Hannah Lyons, competition judge

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