The Best Astronomy Photos Of 2016 Are Simply Stellar

See for yourself!

17/09/2016 6:00 AM AEST | Updated 17/09/2016 6:00 AM AEST
Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016/© Yu Jun (China)
The Baily’s beads effect seen from Luwuk, Indonesia, during the total solar eclipse of March 9, 2016.

A dramatic photo of the total solar eclipse on March 9, 2016, has earned top honors in the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition this year.

Scroll down to see a gallery of winning photos.

The composite image spotlights a phenomenon known as Baily’s beads, in which “beads” of sunlight peek around the dark disc of the moon during a total solar eclipse. The picture beat out submissions from thousands of amateur and professional photographers from more than 80 countries ― and earned Chinese photographer Yu Jun a 10,000-pound ($13,000) prize.

“This is such a visually striking image, with its succession of fiery arcs all perfectly balanced around the pitch black circle of totality,” Dr. Marek Kukula, the public astronomer at the Greenwich Royal Observatory in England and one of the judges of the competition, said in a news release. “It’s even more impressive when you realize what it shows: the progress of a solar eclipse, all compressed into a single frame with consummate skill and precision.”

Now in its eighth year, the photo competition is run by the observatory in association with the London-based asset management firm Insight Investment and BBC’s Sky at Night magazine.

Other top images in the contest include a colorful composite of the star Sirius and a picture of the moon that shows its rugged terrain in detail not seen in many conventional photos of our natural satellite.

The photos will be on display at the observatory’s Astronomy Centre from Sept. 17, 2016, through June 28, 2017 ― but you can just scroll down here to see some of the best.

  • From Maurolycus to Moretus
    Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016
    A close-up view of the lunar landscape littered with craters and craterlets largely forged by the impact of meteors and asteroids. © Jordi Delpeix Borrell (Spain)
  • City Lights
    Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016
    Star trails highlighting the movement of the Earth gently arc over the towering buildings in the bustling Quarry Bay neighborhood of Hong Kong. The light pollution in Hong Kong means that only a few stars are generally visible in the night sky, but this photo shows you can still engage in some stargazing wherever you are in the world. © Wing Ka Ho (Hong Kong)
  • Binary Haze
    Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016
    A misty morning in October on the Isle of Wight resembles an eerie scene from a science fiction film. The weather accentuates the brightness of Venus and the crescent moon. © Ainsley Bennett (UK)
  • Iridis
    Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016
    This composite image compares spectroscopy of two planetary nebulae – the Cat’s Eye Nebula above and the Ring Nebula below. Spectroscopy is used to analyze objects like stars and nebulae. It involves splitting the light from an object into individual colors, like when white light passes through a prism to form a rainbow. This image shows that different parts of the two nebulae give off different types of light. © Robert Smith (UK)
  • Large Magellanic Cloud
    Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016
    The Milky Way’s close neighbor, the Large Magellanic Cloud, showcases stars of all ages within its 14,000-light-year diameter. The Large Magellanic Cloud can sometimes be seen with the naked eye from the southern hemisphere, but it looks like a faint cloud rather than a huge galaxy. © Carlos Fairbairn (Brazil)
  • Lunar Reversal
    Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016
    This innovative image of the moon has been inverted to bring out the intricate details of the rugged lunar landscape that we often miss in more traditional shots of our natural satellite. Veins and “splash marks” from the impacts of asteroids and meteorites are easily observed around the crater Copernicus. © Brendan Devine (USA, age 15)
  • M94 Deep Space Halo
    Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016
    Discovered in 1781, Messier 94, or M94, is a distant spiral galaxy lying approximately 16 million light-years from Earth. It’s notable for its two-ringed structure. The shimmering pinks of the inner ring show star-forming activity. The photo also captures the often unseen galactic halo of M94, which is made up of stars, hot gases and dark matter. © Nicolas Outters (France)
  • Serene Saturn
    Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016
    Saturn, the second largest planet in our solar system, appears with its famed rings. Storms are visible across the gas giant’s face, as is the mysterious “hexagon” at its north pole. © Damian Peach (UK)
  • The Rainbow Star
    Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016
    The brightest star in our sky, Sirius, is often seen as a shining white star. But it can also flash with numerous colors as a result of turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere. The photographer, who had been searching for the best way to display these hues, finally hit upon the idea of videoing the star and then picking out the frames with the most striking colors. © Steve Brown (UK)
  • Twilight Aurora
    Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016
    On the evening of the total solar eclipse of March 20, 2015, the people of Spitsbergen, Norway, were treated to a second natural light show in the form of the Aurora Borealis. At the time the photo was taken, the sun was shining 9 degrees below the horizon, meaning it was evening nautical twilight on the shore of the Greenland Sea. The Adventtoppen Mountain, standing 2,579 feet tall, towers in the background, as the Northern Lights spread across the night sky. © György Soponyai (Hungary)