There are just over two weeks left to enter the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 competition run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in association with Insight Investment and BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Entries must be submitted by noon UK time on 7 April.
Each entrant can submit up to 10 images to the competition. You don't have to be an expert or have fancy equipment to be in with a chance of winning a prize. The competition has nine main categories, including Skyscapes (astronomical subjects such as the Milky Way or stars alongside earthly scenery), People and Space (photographs of the night sky with people or a human interest element) and Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year (for entrants under 16 years old).
Photographers can enter their images online by visiting
www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto, where full competition rules and some top tips on photographing everything from star trails to galaxies and nebulae are also available. To inspire you, IBTimes UK presents some of this year's entries so far.
Field of Dreams by Chris Cook: "My eight-year-old son gazes up at the starry summer Milky Way filled sky from his little league baseball field in Harwich, Massachusetts, USA. Maybe he was dreaming of being a pro baseball player or maybe an astronaut? One of the most important responsibilities in being a parent is to help keep your child's dreams alive – this is his 'Field of Dreams'."
The Comet's Eye by Marc Toso: "In the west desert of Utah several petroglyphs are found on basalt boulders. To me this glyph reminds me of an eye that is traveling through space. I wanted to try to complement the artistic movement of the petroglyph with the movement of the celestial sphere. This is a series of many photos taken and blended to achieve the star trails."
Sh2-249 Jellyfish Nebula by Chris Heapy: "This narrowband composition includes the bright supernova remnant Sh2-249 to the right of the image - nicknamed the Jellyfish for its distinctive resemblance to the animal. The upper left of the photograph depicts a much fainter background area of nebulosity. The Jellyfish is a convoluted tangle of gaseous filaments rapidly expanding away from the initial explosion, but structural analysis (professional observatory data) actually shows what we are seeing are two lobes superimposed on each other, but from this angle one appear as the 'head' of the jellyfish (to the left) and the other lobe (to the right) as the dangling tentacles. The fainter background nebula is a large cloud of mostly molecular hydrogen gas and dust, illuminated by a few young blue embedded stars and criss-crossed by tendrils of dark dust clouds shown as silhouettes because they lie between us and the bright nebula. Picture taken in Macclesfield, United Kingdom."
Aurora Lighthouse Northumberland by Owen Humphreys: "This image was taken at Bamburgh Lighthouse, I waited for seven hours in the cold on the Northumberland coast, and the aurora was incredible to watch even though it was a short lived display. The Lighthouse looking like it has a shocked face really made this image for me and made the long wait worth it."
Ancient Stardust by Gianni Krattli: "In early summer there's a spectacle to watch on Corsica. The Milky Way is visible in all its glory in the Mediterranean night sky. In this picture our galaxy stretches across the night sky above the Genoese tower of Lozari – a coastal defence constructed by the Republic of Genoa between 1530 and 1620 to stem the attacks by Barbary pirates. This night was like a movie; when we planned to leave our house at 01:00 three horses were blocking the road in front of the entrance gate and the neighbour had to catch them before we could leave Afterwards we were the only ones on the street until a wild rabbit crossed the street and forced us to a hard stop."
Supermoon over the Acropolis by Alexandros Maragos: "The biggest and brightest supermoon of the century rises over the Parthenon at the Acropolis of Athens, Greece on 14 November 2016. A composite image made of two different exposures of the same scene – one with a properly exposed moon and the other with a properly exposed Parthenon. After blending the two images together, I kept the moon slightly overexposed and the Parthenon slightly underexposed for a more realistic outcome."
Shard of Night Sky by Haitong Yu: "Star trails and their reflection in a puddle after a rainy day at a desert oasis. The water was so calm that the reflection looked surreal. The image was composed from a series of 168 pictures, shot continuously during a period of 1.2 hours, from Erdos, China."
M33 - The Triangulum Galaxy by Bernard Miller: "M33 is a spiral galaxy about three million light years away in the constellation Triangulum, from which it gets its name. It is also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy. It is the third largest member of the local group behind the Milky Way and Andromeda. Picture taken in Animas, NM, United States"
M31 Andromeda Galaxy, M32 and M110 Galaxies in L(R HA)GB by Kayron Mercieca: "The iconic M31 Andromeda Galaxy, and its companion M32 and M110 galaxies, are pictured here, from Entre Encinas y Estrellas, Spain, in exquisite detail, strongly highlighting the active star formation regions of M31 along its entire spiral structure. To achieve this level of fidelity, the Hydrogen-Alpha emission line was used to enhance the red channel. The image is an HDR image, bringing out the faintest spiral structures as much as the intense galactic core. This image is a 4-panel mosaic comprising 76 hours of total exposure time. 1 and 10 minute exposures were captured throughout in order to produce the HDR result, with a 3nm Hydrogen-Alpha narrowband filter used with 15 minute exposures to bring out the active star formation regions."
Lighting the Way Home by Ian Inverarity: "A self-portrait underneath the Milky Way on the track leading into Blacks Gap, just south of Wilpena Pound, Hawker, South Australia. This is a very scenic area by day or night – one of my favourite areas to visit. On this night there was a lot of cloud about but fortunately the cloud mostly cleared after the Moon rose, so it wasn't a wasted trip. It was a windy night but the native pine trees are very stiff and did not move enough to be blurred during the 10-second exposure. The area has very low levels of light pollution so even with some moonlight, illuminating the sky and the foreground, the Milky Way can still be clearly photographed."
Kirkjufell Aurora by Joe Burdett: "In 2016 we got married in Iceland, having got engaged there in 2013. A few nights before our big day we witnessed the most amazing Aurora display we have ever seen, in Grundarfjörður. This has been an ambition of mine as a photographer since I got my first DSLR in 2014.
Grey Heron under the Noctilucent Clouds by Adrien Mauduit: "As I was shooting a slow-developing noctilucent cloud display on 12 June 2016 on the calm shores of Sejerøbugt bay in north-west Sjælland Denmark, I received the company of a grey heron foraging for fish and crustaceans in the still and shallow waters of the beach. The sun stayed in the nautical twilight zone for several hours and gave birth to bright noctilucent clouds right above the bay reflecting nicely onto the Baltic, allowing me to spot the heron. It got challenging to capture the bird, as it was constantly moving, but fortunately for me, herons like lying still in wait for some precious seconds, so I took my chances and got the shot!"
Blood Sun by Molly Wakeling: "While waiting for night to fall in Dayton, US, I set up my astronomy club's solar telescope to view and image the sun before it set. By the time it was set up and I got my smartphone attached, the sun had sunk behind a tree. When I focused on the tree instead, the view was quite remarkable, so I snapped a few pictures on my smartphone before packing the telescope back up. The red hue is from a hydrogen-alpha filter on the telescope."
Aurora Australis by Russell Wiltshire: "A spectacular Aurora Australis as seen from Apollo Bay on the Southern coastline of mainland Australia. Colourful beams, including a rare blue light, dance across the horizon and reflect from the calm seas of Bass Strait. The aurora was generated when a high speed solar wind from a coronal hole impacted the Earth's magnetic field on the 1st of March 2017. A single 25-second exposure, edited in Adobe Lightroom."