The Royal Observatory Greenwich, in association with BBC Sky at Night Magazine, has welcomed a record-breaking number of entries for its 2014 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition

The annual global search for the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos, from vast galaxies millions of light years away to dramatic images of the night sky, is now in its sixth year, attracting spectacular images from over 50 countries. Entries have increased by 40% on last year and 221% since the competition launched in 2009.

The shortlist for Astronomy Photographer of the Year will be announced in the summer and the winning images showcased in the annual free exhibition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich from 18 September 2014 to February 2015.

You can see a selection of this year’s entries in the gallery below…

Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich and judge in the competition, said: ‘The competition grows more and more exciting every year, especially with the sheer volume of entries constantly on the increase. I’ve been overwhelmed to see how the astrophotography community has come up with new and original ways to produce startling images year on year.’

In 2013, Mark Gee won with his extraordinary image depicting a star-riddled Milky Way alongside the beam from a lighthouse on Cape Palliser in New Zealand, shining out towards the sea. Other winning images from 2013 showcased astounding astronomical wonders of the night sky such as Sam Cornwell’s ghostly, visceral depiction of the 2012 Transit of Venus that won the Sir Patrick Moore prize for Best Newcomer, and winner of the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year, 14 year old Jacob Marchio’s striking shot of the Milky Way rendered with a dusky brown colour palette.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 has four main categories:

Earth and Space – Photographs that include landscape, people and other earth-related things alongside an astronomical subject ranging from the stars, the Moon or near-Earth phenomena such as the aurora.

Our Solar System – Imagery which captures the Sun and its family of planets, moons, asteroids and comets.

Deep Space – Pictures that capture anything beyond the Solar System, including stars, nebulae and galaxies.

Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year – Pictures taken by budding astronomers under the age of 16 years old.

There are also three special prizes: People and Space recognises the best photo featuring people in the shot; The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer is awarded to the best photo by an amateur astrophotographer who has taken up the hobby in the last year and who has not entered an image into the competition before; and Robotic Scope, acknowledges the best photo taken using one of the increasing number of computer-controlled telescopes at prime observing sites around the world, which can be accessed over the internet by members of the public.

The competition is powered by the photo-sharing website Flickr. Photographers can enter online by visiting and each entrant may submit up to five images.

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