Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2011 opens for entries

The launch of this year's international competition for astro imaging
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Tom Lowe's winning image from 2010, 'Blazing Bristlecone' 
 

This year's Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition opens for entries today, and you have until midday on 13 July to submit your best shots. Now in its third year, Astronomy Photographer of the Year showcases spectacular images of the night sky.

The big news this year for amateur astronomers who use the Faulkes telescope or GRAS (Global Rent-a-Scope) is that there's a brand new special prize worth £350 for Robotic Image of the Year. As long as you've processed the image yourself, it can be taken by any robotic telescope. Robotic Image of the Year joins other special prizes, including People and Space and Best Newcomer.

The annual contest, run by the Royal Observatory, Greenwich (ROG) in association with us (Sky at Night Magazine) and the website Flickr, culminates in an awards ceremony and an exhibition. The winning entries and runners-up will go on display at Royal Observatory, Greenwich from 9 September 2011 to February 2012.

The competition is open to all - the judging process for Best Newcomer even gives special consideration for images taken with inexpensive equipment. Said Dr Marek Kukula, ROG public astronomer. "You don't even need a telescope to take great shots of the night sky - a simple digital camera can produce amazing results."

The overall winner takes home a top prize of £1,500. If you win one of the main categories you'll take home £500. Those categories are:

Earth and Space - photos that include a landscape, people and other Earth-related objects alongside an astronomical subject such as the stars, Moon or aurora.

Our Solar System - images capturing the Sun and its family of planets, moons and comets.

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

Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year - photos taken by budding astronomers under the age of 16.  

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