This astronomy photography competition is perfect for those who gaze at the stars too much

That starry skies have mesmerised humanity since it first started walking on two legs, and its hypnotic allure hasn't diminished. 

For those who love to capture those moments when our skies are at their most stunning, you could stand a chance to win a cash prize of £10 000 with the annual Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2020 competition.

Hosted by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in the UK, this international search is looking for the best in astronomy photography, from the celestial bodies you can see with the naked eye from Earth to the galaxies millions of light-years away.

Entry dates are open from 13 January to 6 March, and you can enter up to 10 images into the various categories. The winners, runners up and highly commended entries will be displayed in the dedicated gallery space at the UK's National Maritime Museum in September 2020 and will feature 100 spectacular images of our universe.

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This year a new prize will be added - the Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation - named after a woman computer from the 1890s who worked at the observatory. It will be awarded to the best photo processed using preexisting open-source data.

“This prize opens up the competition to everyone, allowing them to engage with real observations that astronomers use to study the complex workings of the Universe," says Dr Emily Drabek-Maunder, an astrophysicist, astronomer and a science communicator at the observatory - one of three new judges on the panel this year.

"I’m incredibly excited to see how people take these images and use their creativity to process and reimagine them.”

The other prize is the Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer for an amateur who hasn't entered the competition before.

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Here are the categories:

  • Skyscapes: Landscape and cityscape images of twilight and the night sky featuring the Milky Way, star trails, meteor showers, comets, conjunctions, constellation rises, halos and noctilucent clouds alongside elements of earthly scenery. 
  • Aurorae: Photographs featuring the Northern and Southern Lights. 
  • People and Space: Photographs of the night sky including people or a human interest element.
  • Our Sun: Solar images including solar eclipses and transits. 
  • Our Moon: Lunar images including lunar eclipses and occultation of planets. 
  • Planets, Comets and Asteroids: Everything else in our solar system, including planets and their satellites, comets, asteroids and other forms of zodiacal debris. 
  • Stars and Nebulae: Deep space objects within the Milky Way galaxy, including stars, star clusters, supernova remnants, nebulae and other intergalactic phenomena. 
  • Galaxies: Deep space objects beyond the Milky Way galaxy, including galaxies, galaxy clusters, and stellar associations.
  • Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Pictures taken by budding astronomers under the age of 16 years. 

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These are the prizes to be won:

  • The overall winner will receive £10 000.
  • Winners of all other categories and the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year will receive £1 500.
  • The winner of the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year will also receive a Celestron Astromaster 130EQ MD.
  • There are also prizes for runners-up (£500) and highly commended (£250) entries.
  • The Special Prize winners will receive £750.
  • All of the winning entries will receive a one-year subscription to BBC Sky at Night Magazine.  

Learn more about the competition and enter here. 

Happy snapping!

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