These Amazing Pictures Made the Shortlist For Astronomy Photographer of the Year

The competition, now in it’s sixth year highlights beautiful images of the sky from around the world

Situated 7500 light years away in the ‘W’-shaped constellation of Cassiopeia, the Heart Nebula is a vast region of glowing gas, energized by a cluster of young stars at its centre. The image depicts the central region, where dust clouds are being eroded and moulded into rugged shapes by the searing cosmic radiation. Ivan Eder
A composition of several images taken at the famed Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Our planet’s rotation draws the stars out into circles – considered to be the most perfect shape by ancient philosophers. Separated from the sky by the stark line of the horizon, the atomic symmetries of crystallized rock display themselves in the hexagonal columns of the Giant’s Causeway. Rob Oliver
This image was taken while exploring a 1300m lava cave in Iceland. In some areas the roof has caved in, so snow piles up in the winter time and creates these snow peaks. The aurora at its peak gleams through the roof of the cave and despite only taking up a small portion of the photo, it remains the focal point. Ingólfur Bjargmundsson
The spectacular Northern Lights pictured unfolding over a fjord, in Skjervøy, Troms, Norway. The vibrant colours are produced at various altitudes by different atmospheric gases, with blue light emitted by nitrogen and green by oxygen. Red light can be produced by both gases, while purples, pinks and yellows occur where the various colours mix and intersect. Claus Possberg
On 30 October a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) hit Earth, displaying multi-coloured auroras across the sky for most of the night in Kattfjordeidet, Tromsø, Norway. The old birch trees resemble arms reaching for the auroral corona appearing like a strange creature in the sky. Ole Christian Salomonsen
Visitors witness the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park erupt as the Moon partially eclipses the Sun. The scene captures a sense of awe set against blue sky and white geyser steam, as the onlookers strain to see the joining of these two phenomena – one geological and one astronomical. Robert Howell
A bright meteor streaks across the magnificent night sky over the smoke-spewing Mount Bromo just one day before the peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, which is caused by Halley’s Comet. Mount Bromo is one of the most well-known active volcanoes in East Java, Indonesia. Also seen in the photograph are the highest active volcano, Mount Semeru (3676m), and the extinct volcano, Mount Batok, which is located to the right of Mount Bromo. Justin Ng
A flamboyant flare up of the aurora over Steinsvik beach, in Nordreisa, Troms, Norway. It lasted no more than ten minutes from start to finish but it lit up the entire sky and took the photographer by surprise, just as he was about to leave the shoot. The figure on the right is his brother, furiously searching for his lens cap to capture the same phenomena. It was hard for the photographer not to laugh at his brother while moving the camera left to right capturing the panorama, but luckily he stood still long enough to make the final capture. Tommy Richardsen

The Royal Observatory Greenwich has announced their shortlist of images for their Astronomy Photographer of the Year award. Now in its sixth year, the competition will end on September 17. But in the meantime, we get to look at some incredible images of space. 

Many of the pictures that made it to the finals were the bright green ribbons of the aurora borealis, which illuminated swaths of the northern hemisphere this year. There were a few images of deep space, but many of the entries focused on the juxtaposition of some of Earth’s most iconic landmarks (Old Faithful, the Giant’s Causeway) with the heavens. 

Click through the slideshow above to see some of our favorite images from the shortlist. Captions for the slideshow were provided by the Royal Observatory Greenwich. To see all the shortlisted entries, visit the contest’s Flickr album

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