Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2021 winners announced

The winning images of the world's biggest astrophotography competition have been announced.

The winning images from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 13 competition have been revealed during an online ceremony hosted by the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

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The winning image in 2021 is a capture of the 21 June 2020 annular solar eclipse, showing the Moon blocking out most of the solar disc and leaving only a thin ring of sunlight shining through.

The image, entitled The Golden Ring, was the top image in the Our Sun category, and also scooped the top spot as winner of the whole competition.

Photographer Shuchang Dong of China travelled to Tibet to get the capture.

The Golden Ring Shuchang Dong
The Golden Ring, by Shuchang Dong (China). Category: Our Sun (overall winner). Ali, Tibet, China, 21 June 2020. Equipment: Fujifilm XT-4 camera, ND1000 filter

APY 13 judge Emily Drabek-Maunder, who is an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said:

“Solar eclipses have been capturing the interest of humans for thousands of years across the world. This image demonstrates both the beauty and simplicity of an eclipse, but also the science behind this astronomical event.

“Our Sun can still be seen as a ring circling the Moon as it passes in front of the Sun, and mountains on the lunar surface can be seen hiding some of this light on the lower righthand portion of the image. This is a stunning achievement!”

15-year-old Zhipu Wang, also from China, topped the Young Competition category for his beautiful image showing the Sun, the Moon and the planets of the Solar System.

Family Photo of the Solar System 至璞 王
Family Photo of the Solar System, by 至璞 王 (China), aged 15. Category: Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year is the world’s biggest astrophotography competition and each year receives thousands of entries from astrophotographers across the globe.

This year 4,500 images were sent in by entrants from 75 countries.

The images are viewed and pored over by the judging panel, who select the winner, runner-up and highly commended entries in each category, along with the top image of the entire competition.

The 2021 judging panel is:

  • Jon Culshaw: comedian and amateur astronomer
  • Sue Prichard: Senior Curator, Arts at the Royal Museums Greenwich
  • Imad Ahmed: Director of New Crescent Society
  • Dr Sheila Kanani: Education, Outreach and Diversity officer for the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Yuri Beletsky: of Las Campanas Observatory
  • Melissa Brobby: journalist, science communicator and Social Media Officer for the Institute of Physics
  • Emily Drabek-Maunder: astronomer and science communicator at the Royal Observatory Greenwich
  • László Francsics: astrophotographer and chairman of the Hungarian Astrophotographers’ Association
  • Alan Sparrow: Chair of the UK Picture Editors’ Guild and Director of the UK Picture Editors’ Guild Awards
  • Steve Marsh: Art Editor at BBC Sky at Night Magazine
The top images from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 13 competition will be on display at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Credit: National Maritime Museum, London
The top images from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 13 competition will be on display at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Credit: National Maritime Museum, London

The overall winning image of APY 13 received £10,000. Winners of the individual categories received £1,500, with £500 and £250 for runners-up and highly commended images, respectively.

This year’s winning images are due to be featured in an exhibition alongside a selection from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 13 shortlist at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, from Saturday 18 September 2021.

To see the all of this year’s spectacular winning images, view our gallery below.

For advice on how to capture your own images of the night sky, read our beginner’s guide to astrophotography or discover our pick of the best astrophotography cameras.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2021: winning images

The Golden Ring Shuchang Dong
The Golden Ring, by Shuchang Dong (China). Category: Our Sun (overall winner). Ali, Tibet, China, 21 June 2020. Equipment: Fujifilm XT-4 camera, ND1000 filter
Polar Lights Dance Dmitrii Rybalka
Polar Lights Dance, by Dmitrii Rybalka (Russia). Category: Aurorae. Approach to the Kara Strait, Russia, 30 November 2020. Equipment: Sony ILCE-7M3 camera, 28 mm f/2.8 lens
The Milky Ring Zhong Wu
The Milky Ring, by Zhong Wu (China). Category: Galaxies. Sichuan and Qinghai, China; Lake Pukaki, New Zealand, January–February 2020 and August 2020–January 2021. Equipment: Nikon D810a camera, 40mm f/1.4 lens.y Starry Landscape Stacker 1.8.0. Algorithm: Mean Min Hor Star Dupe
Beyond the Limb Nicolas Lefaudeux
Beyond the Limb, by Nicolas Lefaudeux (France). Category: Our Moon. Forges-les-Bains, Île-de-France, France, 19 June 2020. Equipment: Celestron C11 2800 mm telescope at f/10, iOptron iEQ30 mount, Basler ACA2500-14GC camera
Lockdown Deepal Ratnayaka
Lockdown, by Deepal Ratnayaka (UK). Category: People and Space. Windsor, Berkshire, UK, 20–21 January 2021. Equipment: Sony ILCE-6600 camera, 8 mm f/4 lens.
A Colourful Quadrantid Meteor Frank Kuszaj
A Colourful Quadrantid Meteor, by Frank Kuszaj (USA). Category: Planets, Comets and Asteroids. Cook Station, Missouri, USA, 19 January 2021. Equipment: Sony a7R III camera, Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer star tracker, 70mm f/2.8 lens
Luna Dunes Jeffrey Lovelace
Luna Dunes, by Jeffrey Lovelace (USA). Category: Skyscapes. Death Valley National Park, California, USA, 25 February 2020. Equipment: Sony ILCE-7RM4 camera, 70mm f/8 lens, 200mm f/2.8 lens
California Dreamin' NGC 1499 Terry Hancock
California Dreamin’ NGC 1499, by Terry Hancock (UK). Category: Stars and Nebulae. Whitewater, Colorado, USA, 16–31 January, 6 and 28 February, 2 March 2021. Equipment: Takahashi FSQ130 telescope at f/5, Chroma Narrowband filters, Paramount ME mount, QHY600M camera.
Family Photo of the Solar System 至璞 王
Family Photo of the Solar System, by 至璞 王 (China), aged 15. Category: Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year. Yongtai, Fujian, China, 14 August 2020–21 January 2021. Equipment: Celestron C8 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, UV/IR cut filter, Celestron AVX mount, ZWO ASI-224-MC camera, 200mm f/10 lens, Baader filter, Omni 2x Barlow 200mm f/10 lens, Omni 2x Barlow 4000mm f/20 lens
Falcon 9 soars past the Moon Paul Eckhardt
Falcon 9 Soars Past the Moon, by Paul Eckhardt (USA). Category: The Manju Mehrotra Family Trust Prize for Best Newcomer. Titusville, Florida, USA, 4 February 2021. Credit: Sony ILCE-6500 camera, 210mm f/8 lens.
Another Cloudy Day on Jupiter Sergio Díaz Ruiz
Another Cloudy Day on Jupiter, by Sergio Díaz Ruiz (Spain). Category: The Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation (joint winner). Hubble Space Telescope WFC3/UVIS (26–27 June 2019), FQ889, F631N, F502N, F395N, F467M, F658N, F275W, F343N channels, NASA/ESA HST Space Telescope, OPAL program (PI: Simon, GO13937)
Celestial Fracture Leonardo Di Maggio
Celestial Fracture, by Leonardo Di Maggio (UK). Category: The Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation (joint winner). Cassini Wide Angle Camera (September 2004–October 2007), visible light channel, NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
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For more information on the competition, visit the Astronomy Photographer of the Year website.