Here Are The Best Astronomy Photos Of 2016!

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Each year, the Royal Observatory Greenwich chooses the most beautiful and striking photos that captured the wonder of space. The winners for the 2016 Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition have just been announced, and they're absolutely breathtaking.

The contest was open to submissions from around the globe, and the judges chose winners and runners-up in different categories, such as the Sun, the Moon, galaxies, planets/comets/asteroids, auroras, and more. This was the eighth year of the competition, and they received a record number of submissions: 4,500 entries from 80 countries!

1. "Aurorae" Category: Highly Commended

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© Bernt Olsen

2. "Aurorae" Category: Runner-up

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© Kolbein Svensson

3. "Aurorae" Category: Winner

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© György Soponyai

4. "Galaxies" Category: Highly commended

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© Rolf Wahl Olsen

5. "Galaxies" Category: Runner-up

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© Ignacio Diaz Bobillo

6. "Galaxies" Category: Winner

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© Nicolas Outters

7. "Our Moon" Category: Highly Commended

© Sergio Garcia Rill

8. "Our Moon" Category: Runner-up

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© Katherine Young

‘As the Moon rises, I love the way it ripples and shimmers – it extends and reaches as though it is climbing out of this world. The Moon was at an altitude of +8 and an azimuth of 75, a day after being a full Moon. Here it is on the wane [the illuminated portion decreasing in size]. The atmosphere usually makes the horizon look blurry, so to portray it otherwise would be dishonest.’

9. "Our Moon" Category: Winner

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© Jordi Delpeix Borrell

10. “Planets, Comets & Asteroids” Category: Highly Commended

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© Damian Peach

11. “Planets, Comets & Asteroids” Category: Runner-up

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© Gerald Rhemann

12. “Planets, Comets & Asteroids” Category: Winner

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© Damian Peach

13. "Skyscapes" Category: Highly Commended

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© Yu Jun

14. "Skyscapes" Category: Runner-up

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© Mikko Silvola

"In the upper atmosphere, about 80–85 kilometres high, small crystals of water-ice glow in the summer nights."

15. "Skyscapes" Category: Winner

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© Ainsley Bennett

16. “Stars & Nebulae” Category: Highly Commended

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© Tom O'Donoghue

17. “Stars & Nebulae” Category: Runner-up

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© Pavel Pech

18. “Stars & Nebulae” Category: Winner

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© Steve Brown

‘Whenever I see Sirius in the night sky I always take a moment to enjoy the rapid cycle of colours it displays, especially when close to the horizon. Sirius is called the ‘Rainbow Star’, as its twinkling seems to go through every colour of the rainbow."

19. "People & Space" Category: Highly Commended

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© Robin Stuart

20. "People & Space" Category: Runner-up

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© Dani Caxete

21. "People & Space" Category: Winner

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© Wing Ka Ho

22. Robotic Scope Special Prize: Winner

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© Robert Smith

‘This composite of two images compares slit-less spectroscopy of two well-known planetary nebulae, Cat’s Eye Nebula at the top, and M57 Ring Nebula below. In a spectrograph the light is dispersed into its constituent wavelengths or colours. The particular wavelengths a nebula emits identify the gases of which it consists."

23. The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer: Winner

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© Carlos Fairbairn

24. Young Competition: Highly Commended

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© Scott Carnie-Bronca

25. Young Competition: Highly Commended

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© Jonathan Farooqi

26. Young Competition: Runner-up

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© Jasmeen Villalobos

27. Young Competition: Winner

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© Brendan Devine

28. "Our Sun" Category: Highly Commended

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© Gabriel Octavian Corban

29. "Our Sun" Category: Runner-up

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© Catalin Beldea & Alson Wong

30. "Our Sun" Category Winner and Overall Winner

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© Yu Jun

‘I took a series of photos of the 2016 total solar eclipse and stacked them to show the dramatic ‘Baily’s Beads’ formation. Baily’s Beads [named after English astronomer Francis Baily] occur as the Moon passes in front of the Sun. From Earth it seems like the sunlight around the edge of the Moon is broken into fragments because of the uneven lunar surface. This creates the illusion of a string of bright beads encircling the Moon.’

Bonus: Judges discuss the winner - Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016

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