Sunset Peak Star Trail by Chap Him Wong

The 2015 Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year Awards marked the seventh annual competition whereby astrophotographers from around the world compete against one another in a variety of categories such as ‘Star and Nebulae’, ‘Aurorae’ and ‘Planets, Comets and Asteroids’.

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A Celestial Visitor by George Martin

The assortment and quality on display is staggering, and that’s just looking at those taken in the ‘Under 15’ category (the winner of which shown above, taken by 15 year old George Martin from the UK with his photo of the comet C/2014 (Lovejoy) entitled ‘A Celestial Visitor’.

Astrophotography is notoriously difficult to get right – requiring a huge amount of patience, technical ability and skill (and at times, a little bit of luck!). Capturing the Heart Nebula for example, over 7500 light years away is by no means an easy feat. To capture the Comet Jacques passing it by in the same shot, is just an amazing achievement on another level!

The Arrow Missed the Heart by Lefteris Velissaratos (Greece)

Part of the beauty of astrophotography is the acknowledgment that, as with wildlife photography for instance, the desired phenomenon to shoot is only present for a few weeks, days, sometimes even hours. Photographer Michael van Doorn who shot the winning image in the ‘Galaxies’ categories confirmed this stating that in the Netherlands there are only a few optimal days a year to shoot, taking the opportunity to capture this amazing shot of our neighbouring galaxy, M33.

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M33 Core by Michael van Doorn

Photographer Paolo Porcellana explains the run up to this amazing shot – giving you a completely perspective to the sun’s ‘rays’: “When I saw that this huge prominence was starting to detach from the surface of the Sun I decided to capture its trip to space. Because of its massive size it kept a visible structure even at a great distance from the Sun’s disc. I reduced the focal length to 2m and captured six panels to make a big mosaic. That remarkable projected arm of fire reached a length of more than 700,000km in its process of detachment.”

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Huge Prominence Lift-off by Paolo Porcellana

The 2015 overall winner was chosen from the ‘Skyscapes’ category, shot by French photographer Luc Jamet. The serenely beautiful shot of the sun’s eclipse taken in Norway is perfectly framed by the snowy landscape, softly blending into the shadowed sky. It is an incredible shot of an exceptional moment.

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You can view the full list of winners and entrants here or you can visit the exhibition on display until June 2016 at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, London. On a note to any of the photographers – if you fancy contributing any of the images to Fotolia, we think they’d be bestsellers 🙂