An unexpected and astonishing find located more than 2.5 million light-years from Earth took top honors at the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year awards this week. Amateur astronomers Marcel Drechsler, Xavier Strottner, and Yann Sainty captured an image of a massive plasma arc near the Andromeda Galaxy, a discovery that has resulted in scientists looking closer into the giant gas cloud.
“This astrophoto is as spectacular as [it is] valuable,” judge and astrophotographer László Francsics said in a press release. “It not only presents Andromeda in a new way, but also raises the quality of astrophotography to a higher level.”
[Related: How to get a great nightsky shot]
While “Andromeda, Unexpected” captured the prestigious overall winner title, other category winners also dazzled with photos of dancing auroras, neon sprites raining down from the night’s sky, and stunning far-off nebulas that might make you feel like a tiny earthling floating through space.
Sit back and scroll in awe at all the category winners, runners-up, and highly commended images from the 2023 Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year honorees.
Overall winner: Andromeda, Unexpected
Runner-Up: The Eyes Galaxies
Highly Commended: Neighbors
Runner-up: Circle of Light
Highly Commended: Fire on the Horizon
Runner-Up: Sundown on the Terminator
Highly Commended: Last Full Moon of the Year Featuring a Colourful Corona During a Close Encounter with Mars
Winner: A Sun Question
Highly Commended: The Great Solar Flare
People & Space
Runner-Up: A Visit to Tycho
Highly Commended: Close Encounters of The Haslingden Kind
Planets, Comets & Asteroids
Winner: Suspended in a Sunbeam
Runner-Up: Jupiter Close to Opposition
Highly Commended: Uranus with Umbriel, Ariel, Miranda, Oberon and Titania
Winner: Grand Cosmic Fireworks
Runner-Up: Celestial Equator Above First World War Trench Memorial
Highly Commended: Noctilucent Night
Stars & Nebulae
Winner: New Class of Galactic Nebulae Around the Star YY Hya
Runner-Up: LDN 1448 et al.
Highly Commended: The Dark Wolf – Fenrir
The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer
Winner: Sh2-132: Blinded by the Light
Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year
Winner: The Running Chicken Nebula
Runner-Up: Blue Spirit Drifting in the Clouds
Highly Commended: Lunar Occultation of Mars
Highly Commended: Roses Blooming in the Dark: NGC 2337
Toni Frank is a news writer for Texas Ten Thirty One, covering arts, construction, automotive, travel, real estate, and fashion. She's passionate about the arts and loves to travel. When she's not writing news stories, she can be found browsing the internet for new places to visit or watching her favorite TV shows.