For the 2023 competition there were over 4,000 entries from 64 countries. Our lead image features an eye-catching capture of an aurora by photographer Andreas Ettl over the Lofoten Islands of Norway.
“Pictures of the aurora such as this are so enchanting,” said one of the competition’s judges, Imad Ahmed. “The icy temperature of the landscape is almost palpable, with the snow-capped mountain framed by the cold emerald hues. … There are a lot of rich details in the picture too, including a canopy of stars subtly strewn across the sky, really adding to the majesty of the shot.”
See more beautiful images below, plus an image that captured a surprising discovery.
Astrophotographer Todd Salat was out in the early hours of April 15, 2023, hoping to capture an aurora display over Donnelly Dome near Delta Junction, Alaska. While the stunning aurora didn’t disappoint, Salat was in for a surprise: a weird spiral appeared in the sky over the summit.
“I had no idea of what I was seeing,” Salat said on his website, “but this phenomenon appears to be caused by engine exhaust from a SpaceX Transporter-7 mission that launched southward on the Falcon 9 about three hours earlier from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.”
This new image taken of the skies above Chile’s Atacama Desert near the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) La Silla Observatory, shows bright red streaks in the sky known as red sprites. Red sprites are large-scale electrical discharges that occur high above thunderstorm clouds, usually triggered by the discharges of positive lightning between an underlying thundercloud and the ground. However, the red sprites appear high in Earth’s atmosphere, sometimes 50-90 km in altitude.
We look forward to this every year! The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition showcases and recognizes some of the most stunning views of the night sky and astronomical objects. The shortlisted images from this year’s competition have now been released, and they include awe-inspiring scenes of the Milky Way, colliding galaxies, stellar nurseries, planets, nebula and the always photogenic Moon.
We’re featuring some of our favorites from this year’s competition here. The contest is operated by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, in cooperation with Liberty Specialty Markets and in association with BBC Sky at Night Magazine. In 2022, the competition received over three thousand entries from passionate amateur and dedicated professional photographers, submitted from sixty-seven countries.
I’d never seen galaxy images like this before. Nobody had! These images highlight star forming regions in nearby(ish) galaxies. There are still a number of unanswered questions surrounding how star formation actually occurs. To answer those questions, we are observing galaxies that are actively forming stars within giant clouds of gas. Until recently, we didn’t have the resolution needed to clearly image the individual gas clouds themselves. But images released by a project called PHANGS (Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS) in a collaboration between the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope and the Atacama Large millimeter/submillmeter Array (ALMA) have provided never before seen detail of star forming clouds in other galaxies.
A group of amateur and professional astronomers have collaborated to create what may be the highest resolution global map of Mars ever created with images taken from Earth.
The images were taken with the 1-meter telescope at the Pic-du-Midi observatory in the Pyrenees of France, during several nights in October and November, 2020 when Mars was at opposition, or its closest approach to Earth.
The SPHERE planet-hunting instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope captured this image of a white dwarf feeding on its companion star, a type of Red Giant called a Mira variable. Most stars exist in binary systems, and they spend an eternity serenely orbiting their common center of gravity. But something almost sinister is going on between these two.
Astronomers at the ESO have been observing the pair for years and have uncovered what they call a “peculiar story.” The Red Giant is a Mira variable, meaning it’s near the end of its life, and it’s pulsing up to 1,000 times as bright as our Sun. Each time it pulses, its gaseous envelope expands, and the smaller White Dwarf strips material from the Red Giant.
The world’s most powerful telescopes have a lot of work to do. They’re tasked with helping us unravel the mysteries of the universe, like dark matter and dark energy. They’re burdened with helping us find other habitable worlds that might host life. And they’re busy with a multitude of other tasks, like documenting the end of a star’s life, or keeping an eye on meteors that get too close to Earth.
Holy moly, that was awesome! Incredible, fantastic, amazing…there just aren’t the words to describe what it is like to experience totality. While I’m trying to come down to Earth and figure out how to explain how wonderful this was, enjoy the beautiful images captured by our readers from across the US and those from across the world who traveled to capture one of nature’s most spectacular events: a total solar eclipse.
The images from those seeing partial eclipses are wonderful, as well, and we’ll keep adding them as they come in (update, we just got some from Europe too). Great job everyone!