These 11 Space Photo Award Winners Are Truly Out of This World

England’s Royal Museums Greenwich has been hosting the Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest for the past 15 years. This annual event showcases the stunning photographs of nebulas, gas clouds, aurorae, and galaxies captured throughout the year. The winners of this year’s contest include both professional photographers and amateur astronomers, and the shortlisted photographs are equally impressive.

If you’re interested in seeing more of these breathtaking images, you can visit the Royal Museums Greenwich online and participate in the voting for the People’s Choice Award for 2023. One of the standout winners of this year’s competition is the photograph titled “Andromeda, Unexpected,” which earned the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2023 award.

The photograph was taken by three European photographers – Marcel Drechsler, Xavier Strottner, and Yann Sainty – who dedicated 110 hours of exposure to capture a new perspective of the Andromeda Galaxy. In their exploration, they stumbled upon faint light emitted by a massive sea of charged particles that had been hiding in plain sight. The image also features a blue streak, now named the Strottner-Drechsler-Sainty Object 1 (SDSO-1), located to the left of the galaxy. This extragalactic plasma streak appeared in an Oxygen-3 telescopic filter, an unconventional choice for observing space. The photographers took a chance with this filter to add a new visual dimension to the popular astronomy target, and the result was an unexpected and accidental discovery.

Another remarkable winner is the photograph titled “Grand Cosmic Fireworks” by Angel An, which won the Skyscapes 2023 category. An captured a rare phenomenon known as a transient luminous event (TLE) during a trip to the Himalayas. This particular TLE, called a sprite, extended high above the thunderstorm clouds, resembling fireworks in the sky.

Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau’s photograph, “A Sun Question,” won the Our Sun 2023 category. This mosaic image captures a filament on the Sun’s surface, shaped like a question mark. Poupeau took 115 frames out of 3,400 to create this stunning image.

In the Our Moon 2023 category, Ethan Chappel’s photograph titled “Mars-Set” stood out. Chappel captured the moment when Mars appeared to be peeking out from behind a full Moon during a lunar occultation.

The winner of the Aurorae 2023 category is Monika Deviat’s photograph titled “Brushstroke.” Deviat captured the aurora borealis above Utsjoki, Finland, in a single moment of the dance. This photograph showcases Deviat’s skill in capturing the ever-changing and mesmerizing beauty of the northern lights.

Tom Williams’ photograph, “Suspended in a Sunbeam,” won the Planets, Comets, and Asteroids 2023 category. Williams captured Venus in ultraviolet light, revealing a creamy and soft texture that contrasts with the planet’s usual suffocating hellscape appearance.

The People and Space 2023 category was won by Vikas Chander’s photograph titled “Zeila.” Chander captured an abandoned shipwreck in Namibia accompanied by stunning star trails.

Amateur astronomer Marcel Drechsler also won the Stars and Nebulae 2023 category with his photograph titled “New Class of Galactic Nebulae Around the Star YY Hya.” This image showcases a pair of stars surrounded by a swaddle of dust and gas, requiring more than 360 hours of exposure time to capture.

Aaron Wilhelm, a newcomer in the field, impressed the judges with his photograph titled “Sh2-132: Blinded by the Light,” winning the Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer 2023 category. This image captures the Lion Nebula, revealing exquisite details of the dark, twisting lanes of dust and perfectly round stars.

The Young Category 2023 winner is the photograph titled “The Running Chicken Nebula” by Runwei Xu and Binyu Wang. This image invites viewers to explore the galactic cavern-like structure of the Running Chicken Nebula.

Lastly, John White’s photograph titled “Black Echo” won the Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation 2023 category. This unique image captures audio waves emitted by a black hole at the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster, perturbing water in a petri dish.

These winning photographs showcase the incredible beauty and wonder of the universe, capturing rare phenomena and unveiling hidden details. They inspire awe and curiosity, inviting us to explore and appreciate the vastness of space.

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