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Stunning solar eclipse photo wins Astronomy Photographer of the Year

Royal Observatory Greenwich Astronomy competition
(Image credit: Jeffrey Lovelace / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

The winners of the biggest annual competition for astrophotographers has been announced.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich's Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is in its thirteenth year. It showcases the world's best space photography, from mesmerizsing images of distant planets to powerful stellar skyscapes. This year the contest received over 4,500 entries from 75 countries.

BBC Sky at Night Magazine’s Art Editor Steve Marsh, who is also a judge for the competition, said: “From stunning new takes on our own solar system to new views of our galaxy and the wider universe and poignant reflections of our place in the cosmos. The 2021 competition has once again upheld astrophotographers strive for excellence and innovation during an incredibly challenging year for the world."

Overall winner: Shuchang Dong

The beauty of simplicity and the technical excellence of Shuchang Dong’s image spellbound the judge (Image credit: Shuchang Dong / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

Chinese photographer Shuchang Dong with his astounding image of the annular solar eclipse, The Golden Ring, is the Overall Winner of the contest. As well as securing the £10,000 top prize, his image takes pride of place in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 13 exhibition.

The photograph depicts the annular solar eclipse that occurred on 21 June 2020 in a powerful and atmospheric composition.

Competition judge László Francsics said: “Perfection and simplicity, that can lead to a winner image. The square crop has a tension with the mystic ring, and the misty bluish sky is the complementary of the yellow ring."

• Read more: Best lenses for astrophotography

Winner of the Aurorae category: Dmitrii Rybalka with Polar Lights Dance (Image credit: Dmitrii Rybalka)

Other winning images from other categories and special prizes include the mesmerising Aurora dance taken from the bridge of a ship by the Third Officer Dmitrii Rybalka (Russia), who was on watch duty that night... Scroll down to see the showcase of other shots winning shots.

Young Competition category winner

Another notable entry is fifteen-year-old Zhipu Wang's image – he took home the top prize in the Young Competition category for his astonishing composition of the Sun, the Moon and the planets of the Solar System. 

Winner of the Young Competition category: Family Photo of the Solar System by Zhipu Wang (Image credit: Zhipu Wang)

Competition judge Dr Sheila Kanani said: “As a planetary scientist I applaud the work that has gone into creating this photo. I really like the composition with the moon on the right-hand side too!”


Our Sun category 

Winner and Overall Winner:
Shuchang Dong with The Golden Ring. Judge László Francsics described it as a true masterpiece. 

Runner up:

Vincent Bouchama (France) with The Sun sharing its Crown with a Comet  (Image credit: Vincent Bouchama / Royal Observatory Greenwich Astronomy competition)

Highly commended:

Alan Friedman (USA) with Curtain of Hydrogen (Image credit: Alan Friedman / Royal Observatory Greenwich )

Aurorae category

Winner:

Dmitrii Rybalka (Russia) with Polar Lights Dance. (Image credit: Dmitrii Rybalka / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

Highly commended:

Larryn Rae (New Zealand) with Goðafoss Flow (Image credit: Larryn Rae / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

Galaxies category

 Winner and overall winner:

Zhong Wu (China) with The Milky Ring - the wonderful square cropped image (featured previously).

Runner-Up:

Russell Croman (USA) with The Nebulae of the Triangulum Galaxy (Image credit: Russell Croman / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

Highly Commended:

Nicolas Rolland (France) and Martin Pugh (Australia) with A Smiley in Space (Image credit: Nicolas Rolland and Martin Pugh / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

Our Moon category

Winner:

Nicolas Lefaudeux (France) with Beyond the Limb (Image credit: Nicolas Lefaudeux / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

 Runner-up:

Göran Strand (Sweden) with Lunar Halo (Image credit: Göran Strand / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

Highly commended:

Stefan Buda (Australia) with Iridum to Imbrium (Image credit: Stefan Buda / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

People and Space category

Winner:

A poignant star trail image taken during lockdown by Deepal Ratnayaka (UK) that captured the essence of the year 2020, restricting but hopeful (Image credit: Deepal Ratnayaka)

Runner-up: 

André van der Hoeven (Netherlands) with A Lonely Ship Under the Stars (Image credit: Andre van der Hoeven / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

Highly commended:

Nicholas Roemmelt (Germany) with Break of a New Day (Image credit: Nicholas-Roemmelt / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

Planets, Comets and Asteroids category

Winner:

Frank Kuszaj (USA) with A Colourful Quadrantid Meteor (Image credit: Frank Kuszaj / Royal Observatory Greenwich )

Runner-up:

(Image credit: Damian Peach / Royal Observatory Greenwich )

Highly commended:

Martin Lewis (UK) with 3° from the Sun – The Horn Extensions of Venus (Image credit: Martin Lewis / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

Skyscapes category

Winner:

Jeffrey Lovelace (USA) with Luna Dunes (Image credit: Jeffrey Lovelace / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

Runner-up:

Dario Giannobile (Italy) with Moon Over Mount Etna South-East Crater (Image credit: Dario / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

Highly commended:

Jin Yang (China) with Van Gogh's Sketchpad (Image credit: Jin Yang / Royal Observatory Greenwich )

Stars and Nebulae category

Winner:

Terry Hancock (UK) with California Dreamin' NGC 1499  (Image credit: Terry Hancock / Royal Observatory Greenwich)

Runner-up:

Bogdan Borz (Romania) with Clouds in IC 2944 (Image credit: Bogdan Borz / Royal Observatory Greenwich )

Highly commended: 

Min Xie (USA) with The Color Splash of Cygnus Loop (Image credit: Min Xie / Royal Observatory Greenwich )

This year’s contest winners and a selection of previous winners will be published in the competition’s official book (costing £25), available for pre-order exclusively at the Royal Museums Greenwich Shop and goes on sale from 30 September.

If you'd like to enter the competition next year, you can find more information at www.rmg.co.uk.

Read more

• Astrophotography tools: the best gear for shooting the night sky
• The best telescopes for astrophotography
• The best CCD cameras for astrophotography

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