Spectacular Finalists of the 2023 Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest Explore the Stars and Beyond

Northern Lights above the famous Icelandic mountain, Vestrahorn

“Emerald Roots” © Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti. Aurorae Shortlist.
Location: Vestrahorn, Stokksnes, Iceland
“The Northern Lights above the famous Icelandic mountain, Vestrahorn. The aurora is reflected on the black sand beach, and the rising moon makes the sand ripples appear golden.”

Vibrant auroras, incredible solar flares, and dazzling nebulas are just some of the celestial images that have made the 2023 Astronomy Photographer of the Year shortlist. Run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, with support by Liberty Specialty Markets and in association with BBC Sky at Night Magazine, the prestigious contest draws the world's top astrophotographers, and by the looks of this year's finalists, the competition is fierce.

This edition of the photography contest received over 4,000 entries from 64 countries. Now the expert panel of judges has culled the list of photographs, spread across nine categories and two special prizes. While the finalists will need to wait until September to see who topped the categories and discover which astrophotographer was named the overall winner, it's certainly an honor just to make the shortlist.

The winning images, along with a selection of exceptional shortlisted photographs, will then go on display in an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum. Many will also have the honor of being included in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year book, which is already available for pre-sale online.

We've looked through the finalists and picked out some of our favorites to share. These exemplary views of the sky include a crystal clear view of Saturn and its famous rings, artistic star trails, and several comets spotted in majestic settings. Scroll down to view our selections, and then come back in September to see if any of these images were named winners of the contest.

Check out some of our favorite finalists from the 2023 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.

Tarantula Nebula

“The Majestic Tarantula Nebula” © Steeve Body. Stars & Nebulae Shortlist.
Location: Bentleigh, Victoria, Australia
“The Tarantula Nebula (NGC 2070) is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Capturing the Tarantula Nebula’s intricate details and vibrant hues is a challenging task that requires precision and patience. Narrowband filters have been used for the nebulosity and RGB filters for the stars, so they are in natural colors.”

Image of Saturn

“Colourful Saturn” © Damian Peach. Planets, Comets & Asteroids Shortlist.
Location: Marley Vale, Barbados, United Kingdom
“A photograph of Saturn at opposition, the view captures the ring system and colored bands and zones in its atmosphere. The Cassini Division, the almost 5,000km-wide gap between the two main ring structures is clearly seen.”

Solar Flare by Miguel Claro

“Solar Flare X1 from AR2994 in ‘Motion’” © Miguel Claro. Our Sun Shortlist.
Location: Dark Sky Alqueva region, Évora district, Portugal
“Photograph of the Sun taken from a 27-minute timelapse of a solar flare which took place on 30 April 2022.”

Milky Way viewed behind a graffiti of Pandora by Wild Drawing (WD) a Balinese artist on the Greek island of Naxos

“Pandora’s Box” © Derek Horlock. People & Space Shortlist.
Location: Alyko Beach Naxos, Greece
“The Milky Way viewed behind a graffiti of Pandora by Wild Drawing (WD), a Balinese artist on the Greek island of Naxos. In Greek mythology, Pandora opened a jar—or box—releasing all the evils of humanity into the world. The wall is part of an abandoned beach hotel complex where graffiti now covers the walls.”

Star trails taken over a deactivated radio telescope antenna

“Radio Polaris” © João Yordanov Serralheiro. Best Newcomer Shortlist.
Location: Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge, United Kingdom
“Star trails taken over a deactivated radio telescope antenna. The image was achieved with a simple remote shutter locked for continuous images.”

This edition of the astrophotography contest received over 4,000 entries from 64 countries.

The Northern Lights over the mammoth sundial Arctic Henge

“Arctic Gates” © Daniel Viñé Garcia. Aurorae Shortlist.
Location: Arctic Henge, Raufarhöfn, Iceland
“The Northern Lights over the mammoth sundial Arctic Henge, which is inspired by Norse mythology. The henge is located in Raufarhöfn, one of the northernmost towns in Iceland.”

Solargraph Capturing Sun Moving Across the Sky

“Solargraph 209 days” © Ksawery Wróbel. Skyscapes Shortlist.
Location: Bloomingdale, Illinois, USA
“Solargraphs are photographs taken with a homemade pinhole camera and can be used to capture the Sun’s path across the sky. Each streak of light in the solargraph image represents one day. Missing light streaks indicate that the sun is obstructed by cloud cover.”

NGC 3521 Galaxies

“NGC 3521: Marquise in the Sky” © Mark Hanson; Mike Selby. Galaxies Shortlist.
Location: El Sauce Observatory, Río Hurtado, Chile
“NGC 3521, a flocculent intermediate spiral galaxy, is surrounded by dust and has numerous star-forming areas and a luminous center. Rarely seen hydrogen alpha jets have been captured.”

Star trails above the preserved First World War trenches in Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park

“Celestial Equator Above First World War Trench Memorial” © Louis Leroux-Gere. Skyscapes Shortlist.
Location: Vimy, Pas-de-Calais, Hauts de France, France
“Star trails above the preserved First World War trenches in Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park, Northern France. Taken over five hours, the camera captured the rotation of the sky, revealing the colorful stars.”

Comet 2022 E3 Above Snowy Mount Etna

“Comet 2022 E3 Above Snowy Mount Etna” © Dario Giannobile. Skyscapes Shortlist.
Location: Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy
“This image shows Comet 2022 E3 soaring over Mount Etna, Sicily as volcanic vapors sweep over the crater. The glowing turquoise green of the comet contrasts with the night sky and snowy landscape.”

The category and overall winners will be announced in mid-September.

Composite Photo of the Moon

“Ball of Rock” © Rich Addis. Our Moon Shortlist.
Location: Wallasey, Wirral, Merseyside, UK
“This is a composite of an image of the Moon 78% illuminated and an image of the full Moon. Assembling close-up shots to create a mosaic of the whole Moon is complex as the perspective changes slightly during a lunar orbit.”

Sun photographed moving towards its maximum cycle

“The Great Solar Flare” © Mehmet Ergün. Our Sun Shorlist.
Location: Traisen, Germany
“The Sun photographed moving towards its maximum cycle. A large 700,000km long solar flare erupts to the left of the image. The current solar cycle, 25, started in 2019 and is increasing in strength. It will peak in a few years’ time, then weaken over the following years before another cycle starts anew.”

Crescent Moon with Red Clouds in Argentina

“Crescent Moon in a Magical Sunset” © Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau. Our Moon Shortlist
Location: Rafaela, Santa Fe, Argentina
“Composite image of three exposures showing the sunset on 1 August 2022 in Rafaela, Argentina. The crescent Moon has 16 percent of its surface illuminated, and the clouds appear an intense red.”

C/2021 A1 (Comet Leonard) captured over the Negev desert, Israel

“C/2021 A1 (Leonard) in Sky of Israel” © Alex Savenok.
Location: Negev desert, Israel
“C/2021 A1 (Comet Leonard) captured over the Negev desert, Israel. The comet made its closest approach to Earth in 2021–2022 and was highly visible with a clear tail. Comet Leonard was destroyed by an orbit which took it close to the Sun.”

Jellyfish Nebula (IC 443)

“Jellyfish Nebula” © Peter Larkin. Stars & Nebulae Shortlist.
Location: Coppet, Vaud, Switzerland
“The Jellyfish Nebula (IC 443) is a supernova remnant (SNR) in the constellation Gemini. Here, the stars have been removed from the image in order to focus on the delicate nebulous structures.”

Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

Related Articles:

Astrophotographers Around the World Share Their Best Photos of the Milky Way

20 Outstanding Winners of the 2022 Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest

18 Otherworldly Finalists From the 2022 Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest

Finalists of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest Bring Us Exceptional Views of the Stars

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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