Greenwich’s Royal Observatory announces 2012 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition finalists

PUBLISHED: 11:34 28 August 2012 | UPDATED: 11:43 28 August 2012

An entry into the Royal Observatory's 2012 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.

An entry into the Royal Observatory's 2012 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.

© Jessica Caterson

Huge eruptions shooting from the sun’s surface, the dazzling green and red lights of the aurora borealis, and spectacular clouds of colourful dust in which new stars are forming thousands of light years away are just some of the awe-inspiring sights captured for the 2012 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.

The competition, which is run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in association with Sky at Night Magazine, is now in its fourth year and has received a record number of entries from enthusiastic amateurs and professional photographers from around the globe.

Shortlisted entries include a view of stars over snow-covered Japanese mountains, the full moon setting behind a historic abbey on Mount Pirchiriano in Italy, a meteor streaking through the sky above a rock formation in Utah and a group of friends stargazing at a caravan site in the Gower Peninsular, South Wales.

Photographers have also captured sights from across our Solar System, galaxy and beyond including a detailed image of our moon’s surface, shimmering dust columns in distant nebulae, and, beyond the Milky Way, the swirling Andromeda Galaxy.

The competition’s judges include BBC The Sky at Night’s Sir Patrick Moore, acclaimed photographer Dan Holdsworth and the Royal Observatory’s Public Astronomer Dr Marek Kukula.

The winners of the competition’s four categories and three special prizes will be announced on Wednesday September, 19 and an exhibition of all the winning images opens the following day.

The exhibition is free of charge and runs until February 2013.

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