Travel photography blog Capture the Atlas has published the best images in its 2021 Milky Way Photographer of the Year competition and the results are truly out of this world!
• Tripod: you'll need one to keep the camera steady during long night-time exposures: Best tripods
• Star tracker mount: optional, but can keep the stars stationary during long exposures: Best start tracker camera mounts
• Fast wide-angle lens: a wide-angle lens can capture a wider area of sky, and a fast aperture keeps the exposure short: Best astro lenses
The competition is unusual in that it does not have an outright winner, but each year it receives a cluster of breathtaking images from which it selects and publishes a stunning shortlist.
This year's competition is one of its best yet. The featured photographers have shown incredible skill and precision to compose and capture their images, revealing the world of detail, light and color in the Milky Way that is invisible to the naked eye.
• Read more: Best cameras for astrophotography
Each year Capture The Atlas gathers the best Milky Way images taken around the world to share with and to inspire the photographic community. Entrants this year submitted images from far-flung locations such as the remote deserts of the American Wild West to the wild landscapes of the Australian Outback, seeking out spectacular glaciers, volcanoes, mountains and beaches with which to create their compositions and frame the Milky Way glowing in the heavens.
Every Milky Way photograph published by Capture The Atlas has a story behind it, and a creative vision that has taken a great deal of planning and preparation to realize. The competition is a great way for the winning photographers not only to tell their story but also to inspire Capture The Atlas's online community of more than 20,000 photographers. The full shortlist of 25 images can be found on Capture The Atlas's competition page.
If you are thinking of trying to capture the Milky Way or other celestial bodies, or even just photograph the night sky, take a look at our astrophotography guide, our tips on how to shoot the moon or our specific beginner's guide to shooting the Milky Way.