It's that time of year again when we can marvel at the fascinating sights on offer in our universe - with help from some stunning photography.
More than 2500 images have been entered for the 2014 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich and the BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Now in its sixth year, the competition is once again showcasing some truly spectacular space photography from amateurs and professional snappers.
This year's judges, scientist and TV presenter Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Editor of Sky at Night Magazine Chris Bramley and the Royal Observatory’s Public Astronomer Dr Marek Kukula, have received a record number of entries from around the world reflecting the ever-increasing popularity of astronomy, helped by the growth of social media and interactive space websites.
Competition Categories and Prizes:
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Overall winner – Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013 (Winner £1500)
Earth and Space: Photos that include landscape, people and other ‘earthly’ things. Pictures should also include an astronomical subject – for example the stars, the moon, or near-earth phenomena such as aurora (winner £500, runner-up £250, highly commended entries £125).
Our Solar System: Photos of our sun and its family of planets, moons, asteroids and comets (winner £500, runner-up £250, highly commended entries £125).
Deep Space: Photos of anything beyond our solar system, including stars, nebulae and galaxies (winner £500, runner-up £250, highly commended entries £125).
Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Category for under-16s (winner £500, runner-up £250, highly commended entries £125).
The judges will also award three special prizes:
People and Space: Photos that include people in a creative and original way (winner £350, runner-up £125).
The Sir Patrick Moore prize for Best Newcomer: Photos taken by people who have taken up the hobby in the last year and have not entered an image into the competition before. The judges will give special consideration to those using simple and inexpensive start-out kit (winner £350).
Robotic Scope Image of the Year: Photos taken using one of the increasing number of computer-controlled telescopes at prime observing sites around the world which can be accessed over the internet by members of the public.
Below are some of the stunning shortlisted images for this year's competition