A Glimpse into the Universe: Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2023

The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, organized by the Royal Museums Greenwich, offers a breathtaking look into the wonders of the universe. The competition showcases extraordinary images captured by photographers from around the world. Here we highlight a few remarkable winning photographs from this year’s competition.

The overall winner, “Andromeda, Unexpected,” captured by Marcel Drechsler, Xavier Strottner, and Yann Sainty, reveals the spiral galaxy Andromeda, our closest large galactic neighbor. What makes this image extraordinary is the presence of a large plasma arc, a never-before-seen “emission nebula,” in the lower left corner. Composed of ionized gas emitting light, this arc may be the closest object of its kind to us in the universe.

Angel An’s winning photograph in the skyscapes category, titled “Grand Cosmic Fireworks,” exhibits sprites or red lightning, a rare meteorological phenomenon that discharges electrical charge high into the upper atmosphere. Sprites, lasting only a millisecond, are incredibly challenging to observe and photograph.

Marcel Drechsler’s image, “New Class of Galactic Nebulae Around the Star YY Hya,” captures a previously unknown galactic nebula surrounding the YY Hya binary star system. Nebulae are massive clouds of interstellar gas and dust that emit colorful displays of light. This image not only provides a dazzling glimpse into space but also contributes to the study of binary star system evolution.

Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau’s photograph, “A Sun Question,” portrays the surface of the Sun with a curious question mark-shaped structure created by solar filaments. Filaments are long threads of gaseous material shaped and anchored by magnetic fields.

“Mars-Set” by Ethan Chappel captures the lunar occultation of Mars, a rare celestial event where Mars disappears behind the Moon. This stunning image depicts Mars skimming the southern edge of the Moon, moments before vanishing from sight.

Lastly, Monika Deviat’s “Brushstroke” showcases the Northern Lights, or the aurora borealis, flickering in the Finnish skies. This image offers a unique perspective of this atmospheric phenomenon, with the green aurora resembling a painter’s brushstroke across a deep black canvas.

These images are just a glimpse of the incredible visuals from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2023 competition. The exhibition at the National Maritime Museum showcases captivating photographs across 11 different categories, allowing viewers to marvel at glittering galaxies and awe-inspiring auroras.

– Royal Museums Greenwich