Organized by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest is in its 15th year and has become a highly anticipated event for lovers of astronomy and astrophotography. And this year, a big discovery by a group of amateur astronomers won. Marcel Drechsler, Xavier Strottner, and Yann Sainty took home the top prize for their image of a large plasma arc next to the Andromeda Galaxy.
While Andromeda is one of the most photographed objects in deep space, the arc has never been previously observed. Scientists are now studying the plasma arc, which might be the largest structure of its kind this close to our Universe. The image highlights the key role that amateur astronomers still have in making discoveries about outer space.
“It's an enormous honor for our team to receive this important award, and we are grateful for all the support, friendship, and encouragement we have received along our journey,” shares the team. “It encourages us to continue to pursue our passion for astrophotography and, of course, research with dedication.”
For their part, the judges were highly impressed by the quality of the image. “This astrophoto is as spectacular as it is valuable. It not only presents Andromeda in a new way, but also raises the quality of astrophotography to a new level,” says competition judge László Francsics.
The winning image from the youth competition was also a team effort. Runwei Xu and Binyu Wang, both 14 years old, share the title of Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year for their beautiful photo of the Running Chicken Nebula. The detail and clarity of their photograph prove that great astrophotography can happen at any age.
Other standouts include Monika Deviat's photo of a green sliver of an aurora in isolation, which almost looks like a brushstroke and a rare glimpse of the Moon passing in front of Mars by Ethan Chappel. These photographs won the Aurorae and Our Moon categories, respectively. They were both awarded for their originality and the high level of skill needed to create the image.
Scroll down to see all the winners of the 2023 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. They will all be on display in an exhibition opening September 16, 2023, at the National Maritime Museum.
Check out the incredible winning astrophotography from the 2023 Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest.