Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015 shortlist at The Royal Observatory Greenwich

Awards announced 17 September 2015: exhibition of winning images opens 18 September 2015

Shortlisted images to this year’s competition selected

Searing hot loops of plasma radiate from the edge of the Sun, star trails illuminate the night sky over a campfire-lit Green Lake in the Hoover Wilderness of California, Comet Lovejoy sails through the solar system in a green haze leaving cometary dust in its wake; Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015 has received more outstanding pictures than ever before.

The competition, which is run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in association with Insight Investment and BBC Sky at Night Magazine, is now in its seventh year and continues to go from strength to strength, receiving a record number of over 2700 spectacular entries from enthusiastic amateurs and professional photographers from over 60 countries spanning the globe.

Shortlisted images from this year’s entrants include the astonishing view of a meteor piercing through the darkness as the Milky Way towers above the 4392m peak of Mount Rainier in Washington, USA; the phenomenal natural light show of a lightning storm emanating from below ominous storm clouds juxtaposed with the gleaming stars of our galaxy above them; and an enthralled stargazer immersed in the stars as the luminous purple sky is mirrored in the thin sheet of water across the world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.

The range of locations is not just limited to our planet. Photographers have also captured sights from across our Solar System, galaxy and the wider universe; from the hypergiant star, Eta Carinae, glowing against the background of swirling clouds of dust and gases that form the Carina Nebula; to the expansive stellar nursery of the Lagoon Nebula positioned around 5,000 light years away; to the galactic supernova remnant IC443 that could have exploded as many as 30,000 years ago and whose appearance has led to it sometimes being referred to as the Jellyfish Nebula.

The competition’s judges include renowned comedian and keen amateur astronomer Jon Culshaw, Editor of Sky at Night Magazine Chris Bramley and the Royal Observatory’s Public Astronomer Dr Marek Kukula. The winners of the newly expanded competition’s nine categories and two special prizes will be announced on 17 September at a special award ceremony at the Royal Observatory. The winning images will be displayed in a free of charge exhibition at the Observatory’s Astronomy Centre from the following day. Winners and shortlisted entries will also be published in the competition’s official book, available on 18 September from bookstores and online. All entries to the competition were submitted via a dedicated Flickr group. The awards ceremony can be followed live on Twitter #astrophoto2015.

Notes to editors:

Competition Categories:

  • Overall winner – Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015
  • Skyscapes sponsored by Insight Investment: Landscape and cityscape images of twilight and the night sky featuring the Milky Way, star trails, meteor showers, comets, conjunctions, constellation rises, halos and noctilucent clouds alongside elements of earthly scenery.
  • Aurorae: Photographs featuring auroral activity.
  • People and Space: Photographs of the night sky including people or a human interest element.
  • Our Sun: Solar images including solar eclipses and transits.
  • Our Moon: Lunar images including lunar eclipses and occultation of planets.
  • Planets, Comets and Asteroids: Everything else in our solar system, including planets and their satellites, comets, asteroids and other forms of zodiacal debris.
  • Stars and Nebulae: Deep space objects within the Milky Way galaxy, including stars, star clusters, supernova remnants, nebulae and other intergalactic phenomena.
  • Galaxies: Deep space objects beyond the Milky Way galaxy, including galaxies, galaxy clusters, and stellar associations.
  • Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Pictures taken by budding astronomers under the age of 16 years old.

The judges will also award two special prizes:

  • The Sir Patrick Moore prize for Best Newcomer: Photos taken by people who have taken up the hobby in the last year and have not entered an image into the competition before. The judges will give special consideration to those using simple and inexpensive start-out kit.
  • Robotic Scope Image of the Year: Photos taken using one of the increasing number of computer-controlled telescopes at prime observing sites around the world which can be accessed over the internet by members of the public.
  • The winners of Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015 will be announced at an award ceremony at the Royal Observatory on 17 September 2015. The winning photographs will be exhibited in the Astronomy Centre from 18 September 2015. Entry to the exhibition is free.
  • The overall winner will receive £2,500. The winner of ‘Skyscapes sponsored by Insight Investment’ will receive £1000, with £500 and £250 going to the runner up and highly commended entries, respectively. Winners of all other categories and the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year will receive £500. There are also prizes for runners-up (£250) and highly commended (£125) entries. The Special Prize winners will receive £350. All of the winning entries will receive a one year subscription to BBC Sky at Night Magazine


  1. The Royal Observatory Greenwich is home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian and one of the most important historic scientific sites in the world. Since its founding in 1675, Greenwich has been at the centre of the measurement of time and space. Visitors can stand in both the eastern and western hemispheres simultaneously by placing their feet either side of the Prime Meridian line. Today the Observatory galleries and Peter Harrison Planetarium help unravel the extraordinary phenomena of time, space and astronomy.
  2. The Royal Observatory Greenwich is part of Royal Museums Greenwich which also incorporates the National Maritime Museum, the 17th-century Queen’s House and Cutty Sark. Royal Museums Greenwich works to illustrate for everyone the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people. This unique collection of attractions, which form a key part of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site, welcomes over 1.5 million British and international visitors a year and is also a major centre of education and research.
  3. Insight Investment is a leading asset manager focused on designing investment solutions to meet its clients’ needs. Founded in 2002, Insight’s collaborative approach has delivered both investment performance and impressive growth in assets under management. Insight manages $590bn (£397bn) across liability-driven investment, fixed income and currency, global multi-asset and absolute return, global farmland and specialist equities*. Insight Investment is owned by BNY Mellon, the global leader in investment management and investment services with $1.7 trillion in assets under management, as at 31 March 2015. The value of investments and any income from them will fluctuate and is not guaranteed (this may be partly due to exchange rate fluctuations). Investors may not get back the full amount invested. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. * Data as at 31 March 2015. Assets under management are represented by the value of cash securities and other economic exposure managed for clients. The assets under management figure represents the combined assets under management of Insight Investment Management (Global) Limited, Pareto Investment Management Limited, Insight Investment Funds Management Limited, Cutwater Investor Services Corporation and Cutwater Asset Management Corporation (Cutwater Asset Management). Cutwater Asset Management is owned by BNY Mellon and operated by Insight.
  4. BBC Sky at Night Magazine has become Britain's best-selling astronomy title since launch in 2005, with 16,000 subscribers and an average monthly circulation of 24,000 copies a month. has 33,000 unique users a month and reaches more than 25,000 social media followers through Facebook and Twitter. The magazine is available on iTunes Newsstand, Google Play and Zinio as well as in print, and is media partner of the annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich. 
  5. With writing from the world’s leading astronomers and writers, BBC Sky at Night Magazine complements one of the world's longest running TV programmes, The Sky at Night, and features regular articles from its presenters Chris Lintott, Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Pete Lawrence and Paul Abel, plus in-depth equipment reviews and stargazing advice. BBC Sky at Night Magazine is published by Immediate Media Co under licence from BBC Worldwide. Follow us on @skyatnightmag
  6. The Royal Observatory, in partnership with Collins, will be publishing Astronomy Photographer Of The Year, Collection 4 on 18 September 2015. The official publication for the Insight Astronomy Photography of the Year competition will showcase over 120 breathtaking images of space and the night sky, including all 2015 winning and shortlisted images. Photographs will be accompanied by full details including photographer’s information, location where photographs were taken, technical specifications and judge’s comments.
  7. Last years’ prize winning images are still available to buy: Astronomy Photographer Of The Year, Collection 3/ RRP £25.00 / Hardback / Published 19 September 2014
  8. For further information or to request review copies please contact: Caroline Maddison/ / DL: 0208 307 4783


Media interviews:

The Royal Observatory Greenwich's Modern Astronomy team is dedicated to the Public Understanding of Science and its experts are available to give radio and TV interviews on astronomy - at the historic Observatory site or in the studio.

The Observatory offers a short notice service to media stations looking for comment / interviews on any aspect of modern astronomy – discussing new discoveries and space missions, telling people what to look for in this month's night sky, or talking about old favourites like black holes, is there ‘life’ and the origins of the universe.

For studio quality and interviews at short notice an ISDN line is available.

For further information or images, please contact:

Rhianon Davies, Royal Observatory Greenwich Press Office | Tel: 020 8312 6545 | 07983 512 841 | Email:

For more information on Insight Investment

More information on BBC Sky at Night Magazine