Humanity has a deep connection with the cosmos and the Universe is ingrained in our history, from timekeeping using the phases of the Moon to aligning great monuments with constellations. But as society has progressed, the modern world may now seem out of touch with the heavens above us.
The study of the cosmos is the Universe learning about itself, and humans are part of the Universe – people are space. The category offers a unique take on astrophotography, exhibiting the grandeur of space we come to expect in the competition, but placing people at the centre of their work in both composition and meaning.
Find out more about the winning and shortlisted images below.
The winning image
Lockdown by Deepal Ratnayaka
Image location: Windsor, Berkshire, UK
"With the UK being in full lockdown and travel restricted for many months due to the pandemic, astrophotography became my wish," Deepal explains.
"My six-year-old daughter, who is always very interested in my photoshoots, was around while I set things up. Sat by the door, showing the stars appearing one by one in the sky to her soft toy Max, she gave me the perfect opportunity to get her in the frame which complimented the message behind the photo."
Equipment used: Sony ILCE-6600 camera, 8 mm f/4 lens; Foreground: ISO 1600, 8-second exposure; Sky: ISO 1000, 844 x 30-second exposures
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 imageMelissa Brobby, competition judge
A Lonely Ship Under the Stars by André van der Hoeven
Image location: Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands
"This image was taken just after sunset while watching the Nieuwe Waterweg canal near Rotterdam," André says. "I was shooting the Comet NEOWISE when this ship passed by on its way to the open sea. The image really caught my attention because of the beautiful comet showing above this ship whose crew was probably unaware of this beautiful sight above them."
Equipment used: Tamron 24–70 mm telescope at f/2.8, Nikon D810a camera, ISO 800, 5-second exposure
A superb photo with brilliant use of opportunity as a ship sails past with a comet soaring overhead. What are the chances?Alan Sparrow, competition judge
Break of a New Day by Nicholas Roemmelt
Image location: Telfs, Tyrol, Austria
"The beginning of the astronomical dawn usually marks the end of the shooting for the astro landscape photographer as the Milky Way and its wonderful colours are quickly fading. But this short period in between the night and the very beginning of the new day has always been a very special moment for me," Nicholas says. "It is probably the most calm time of the day and somehow 'soothes my soul.'"
Equipment used: Canon R(a) camera; Sky: 20 mm f/4 lens, MSM rotator, ISO 6400, 5 x 60-second exposures; Foreground: f/2.8 lens, ISO 2500, multiple 1/10–8-second exposures
A charming image which invites us to be part of the expedition for a little while. A beautiful sense of the invigoration felt by the team keeping their adventurers’ wits about them. The perfect night sky above being the finest reward. The viewer feels compelled to join themJon Culshaw, competition judge
See the full shortlist
Explore all the photographs in the People and Space category
By Antoni Cladera Barceló
Image location: Pont den Gil, Ciutadella, Spain
Equipment used: Nikon Z6 camera, 14 mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 6 x 15-second exposures
By Yang Sutie
Image location: Ranwu, Tibet, China
Equipment used: Nikon Z 7II camera, 17 mm f/2.8 lens; Car lights and figure: ISO 1000, 2 x 25-second exposures; Sky and mountains: ISO 6400, 25-second exposure
By James Rushforth
Image location: Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK
Equipment used: Nikon D850 camera, 70–200 mm lens at 100 mm f/2.8, ISO 5000, 4-second exposure
By Rémi Leblanc-Messager
Image location: Paris, Île-de-France, France
Equipment used: Canon EOS 6D camera, 28 mm f/6.3 lens, ISO 200, 1,080 x 15-second exposures
By Vasyl Yatsyna
Image location: Zimmerwald Observatory, Canton of Bern, Switzerland
Equipment used: Canon EOS 6D modified camera, SkyWatcher Star Adventurer Pro mount, 81 mm f/4 lens, ISO 1600; Sky: 7 x 82-second exposures; Foreground: 30-second exposure
By Derek Horlock
Image location: Start Point and Plymouth, Devon, UK
Equipment used: Nikon D750 camera, ISO 800; Foreground: 24 mm f/11 lens, 3-second exposure; Sky: iOptron Sky Guider Pro mount, 50 mm f/3.5 lens, 8 x 120-second exposures
By Brandon Yoshizawa
Image location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA
Equipment used: Nikon D750 camera, 50 mm f/1.8 lens; Foreground: ISO 250, 2-second exposure at f/8; Sky: ISO 8000, 90 x 6-second exposures at f/2
By Ed Hurst
Image location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Equipment used: Pentax 645Z camera, 25 mm f/4 DA lens; Foreground: ISO 100, 60-second exposure at f/13; Sky: ISO 1250, 3,004 x 1.6 second exposures at f/5
By Derek Horlock
Image location: Priest Cove, Cornwall
Equipment used: Nikon D750 camera, iOptron Sky Guider Pro mount, ISO 800; Foreground: 24 mm f/2.8 lens, 8-second and 200-second exposure; Sky: 24 mm f/4.5 lens, 6 x 240-second exposures
By Letian Wang
Image location: Chaoyang, Beijing, China
Equipment used: Astro-Physics 130 GTX Telescope with Prime Focus Field Flattener and 1.25” TeleVue 2X Barlow at f/12.5, Paramount MX mount, ZWO ASI174MM camera, 37 x 700-microsecond exposures
By Jānis Paļulis
Image location: Bauska, Bauska Municipality, Latvia
Equipment used: Sony a7R II camera, MSM Rotator mount, ISO 200; Foreground: 35 mm f/2.8 lens, 30-second exposure; Sky: 135 mm f/8 lens, 30-second exposure