Autumn supermoons to stunning Saturn: These are the year's most jaw-dropping astronomy images

The shortlist for the 14th Astronomy Photographer of the Year has been announced – and the entries for the prestigious 2022 prize cover the world, time and space.

The highest backdrop to a major road in the world, the National Highway 219 snakes beneath the Himalayas – themselves dwarfed beneath a brilliant vision of the Milky Way, Shot from Tibet.

Photograph by Yang Sutie / Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2022
By Simon Ingram
Published 5 Jul 2022, 00:27 BST

However advanced camera sensors and image processors become, astrophotography will always pose a unique photographic challenge. Our world is moving through space at around 67,000 mph whilst also spinning at around 1,000mph – which makes photographing anything cosmic off the deck of our exceedingly speedy planet rather like attempting to photograph a flower petal from the window of a bullet train at full pelt. Turn out the lights and it gets even harder, of course – with the need for long or multiple exposures, high ISO ratings and creative compositions even more important. 

All of which makes the following 36 images – forming part of the shortlist for 14th Royal Museums Greenwich Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition – a remarkable collective testament to technical skill, patience and an artistic eye. 

Over 3,000 images – which cover a range of astronomic phenomena, from aurorae to comets – were entered into nine categories by members of the public from 67 countries. The categories, which include showcases for the moon, stars and nebulae, people and space and a youth category, also honour British astronomy icons Annie Maunder and Sir Patrick Moore.   

Locations where the images were captured span the world, from a spectacular shot of the Milky Way as seen above Scilly to the newly-discovered (and now destroyed) Comet Leonard from the desert landscapes of Namibia. The shortlist, which includes the images above, has been selected by a judging panel with the winner set to be revealed on 15 September – when the photographer behind the top shot is set to scoop £10,000.

The Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition will be on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich from 17 September. 

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