Stunning Photos of the Night Sky From the International Earth and Sky Photo Contest

From swirling aurora borealis to bioluminescent beaches, these award-winning photographs capture rare views of our world at night

"Over the Top"—The central bulge of the Milky Way rises over a volcano on Réunion Island in the southern Indian Ocean. First place in the Beauty of the Night Sky Category. Luc Perrot
"Reflected Aurora"—In a moonlit night of Norway's Lofoten Islands, the aurora borealis appears over Reine, a fishing village. Second place in the Lights in the Sky category. Alex Conu
"Unlimited Sky"—The starry winter sky is merged into light domes of cities near Iran's Maranjab Salt Lake. Third place in the Against the Lights category. Majid Ghohroodi
"The Little Explorer"—Stargazing from a desert near Fayoum, about 60 miles south of Cairo, Egypt. Fourth place in the Beauty of the Night Sky category. Ibrahim Elawadi
"Fog Below and the Stars Above"—Heavy fog diffuses the light of Wellington, New Zealand, while the Milky Way appears above. Fourth place in the Against the Lights category. Mark Gee
"Bioluminescence & Star Trails"—Southern stars trail in a long exposure image over Australia's Gippsland Lakes: The green airglow and yellow Milky Way appear above rare bioluminescence from plankton in the waves. Fifth place in the Beauty of the Night Sky category. Phil Hart
"Light in the Sky"—The Big Dipper, framed between light rays, appears above Cibiana Pass, in northern Italy. First place in the Against the Lights category. Giorgia Hofer
"Heavenly Street"—LED flashlights shone by thousands of people climbing sacred Mount Tai to see the sunrise made the white-blue path, as a long-exposure photo sequence captured star trails. Fifth place in the Against the Lights category. Song Hongxiao
"False Dusk and Falls at Oregon Coast"—The zodiacal light (false dusk/dawn) in the evening sky of Hug Point at the Pacific Ocean coastline in northern Oregon. Second place in the Beauty of the Night category. Ben Coffman
"Kirkjufell Nights" —Aurora over Kirkjufell waterfalls in Iceland. Third place in the Beauty of the Night category. Nicholas Roemmelt

The winning photos of the 5th Annual International Earth and Sky Photo Contest—a selection of which are highlighted above—feature jaw-dropping nightscapes from all over the world, ranging from dazzling aurora displays in Norway to brilliant starfields seen from the desert near Fayoum, Egypt. 

The contest highlights a style known as landscape astrophotography, which combines elements of the night sky and the Earth's horizon, and more than 1,000 submissions from 55 countries around the world make up a vast array of spectacular photos of the earth and the heavens. 

The contest is a collaboration between The Earth At Night (TWAN), the National Optical Astronomy Observatory and Astronauts Without Borders. These sponsors hope the images raise awareness of issues with light polution. You can see more than 70 additional contest images in the video below.

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.