As these stunning photos prove, Nasa and ESA can't boast the monopoly on jaw-dropping space pictures.
A waning crescent moon illuminates Yosemite National Park, astral clouds of rose-coloured gas reveal star formations in distant galaxies and the supernatural glow of a noctilucent cloud electrifies the Peak District at night; the 2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition has received an array of dazzling pictures of our glittering universe.
Now in its fifth year, the competition is run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in association with Sky at Night Magazine. The 2013 shortlist was chosen from a record number of over 1,200 entries from amateurs and professional photographers from around the globe, with all entries to the competition were submitted via a dedicated Flickr group .
Photos include the dazzling firework display of a Perseid meteor shower against a snowy backdrop in Wyoming; the spectacular view of the Milky Way arching over the much-loved landmark of Durdle Door on the Dorset coast; and a solitary watcher seated by his tent on the Korgfjellet Mountain in Norway watching a breath-taking Orionid meteor soar above him.
Take a look at the out-of-this-world pictures below:
The Night Photographer, by Tommy Eliassen
This image captures the dedication of the committed astrophotographer: camping out in a remote location and spending hours waiting for the perfect shot of the night sky. Here, the photographer’s patience has been rewarded with the sight of a bright meteor streaking across the sky as it burns up high in the Earth’s atmosphere.
A Flawless Point, by Rogelio Bernal Andreo
This striking and unusual panoramic shot is the result of meticulous planning, an artist’s eye for dramatic lighting and sheer chance. The photograph shows the Milky Way arching over Yosemite Valley in California’s famous national park. A lens-shaped (lenticular) cloud hovers over the distinct granite dome of Liberty Cap, which rises to an elevation of over 2000m, near the centre of the photograph.
Photographers on the Rim of Myvatn Craters, by James Woodend
The scale and majesty of astronomical and atmospheric phenomena are clearly shown in this dramatic scene. Although auroral displays have become more common, as the Sun nears the peak of its eleven-year cycle of activity in 2013, these hilltop observers were still lucky to witness such a spectacular example.
Winners and shortlisted entries will be published in the competition’s official book, available on 19 September from bookstores and online. The awards ceremony can be followed live on Twitter #astrophoto2013.
Flick through the full shortlist for Astronomy Photographer Of The Year At The Royal Observatory Greenwich below:
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