The winner of this year’s Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition has been announced as Yu Jun, who managed to secure a top prize of £10,000 with his image of Baily’s Beads.


Judge and Royal Observatory Public Astronomer Dr Marek Kukula says: “This is such a visually striking image, with its succession of fiery arcs all perfectly balanced around the pitch black circle of totality.

It’s even more impressive when you realise what it shows: the progress of a solar eclipse, all compressed into a single frame with consummate skill and precision. A tremendous achievement that pushes the boundaries of what modern astrophotography can achieve.”

Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year is the biggest astrophotography competition in the world.

This year, judges selected 11 winners from over 4,500 entries across 80 countries. The winning images of 2016 are now available to view in a free exhibition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, so be sure to pay a visit to view the work of some of the top astrophotographers capturing the cosmos today.

If you find yourself inspired and would like to enter next year’s competition, keep an eye out for the 2017 submission dates on the IAPY website.

IAPY 2016: winners announced


Baily’s Beads - Yu Jun (China)

Photo location: Luwuk, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia

Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mk II DSLR camera, Sigma DG OS HSM 150-600mm lens.

Judges’ verdicts

"A complete experience.

Everything about this photo makes you wonder: its technique, its symmetry, its visible or hidden parts.” - Oana Sandu, Community Coordinator, ESO

“This image is a remarkably dynamic representation of the moments around total solar eclipse.

I love the way that the Baily’s Beads are presented, with the Sun’s rays shining through valleys in the Moon’s profile as it slides over the disc of the Sun before disappearing, only to reappear on the other side.

The pink prominence is just the icing on the cake – a truly memorable picture!” – Chris Bramley, editor, BBC Sky at Night Magazine


Binary Haze - Ainsley Bennett (UK)

Photo location: Ashey, Isle of Wight, UK.

Equipment: Nikon D800 DSLR camera, 24mm lens.

Judge’s verdict

“What a remarkably atmospheric image this is.

The low veil of mist has transformed the Moon and Venus into something quite otherworldly, like a will-o’-the-wisp.

What’s particularly rewarding is the way this softness is contrasted with the stars in the night sky above, which are crisp and sharp.” - Chris Bramley


Twilight Aurora - György Soponyai (Hungary)

Photo location: Near Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway

Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mk II DSLR camera, 24mm lens.

Judge’s verdict

“I like this photograph so much, precisely because it doesn’t show the intense colours usually associated with aurorae.

Often I can’t relate to aurora photos, because they are just too fantastical, but this photograph puts aurorae in a new context that is closer to how they would look to the human eye.” - Wolfgang Tillmans, Turner Prize-winning artist


M94: Deep Space Halo - Nicolas Outters (France)

Photo location: Castor Sirene Observatory, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France

Equipment: Apogee Alta 16U 16803 camera, RCOS 12.5-inch Ritchey-Chrétien telescope, Paramount ME mount.

Judge’s verdict

“I love the delicate colours in this image.

The softer outer regions of M94’s halo have been captured and processed perfectly and really pull you in towards the intricate structures at the heart of this intriguing galaxy.” - Will Gater, astrophotographer and author


From Maurolycus to Moretus - Jordi Delpeix Borrell (Spain)

Photo location: L’Ametlla del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain

Equipment: ZWO ASI120MM monochrome CMOS camera, Celestron 14-inch telescope, Sky-Watcher NEQ6 Pro SynScan mount.

Judge’s verdict

“So many fine craterlets visible in this shot.

The processing used to bring everything out so sharply has been applied with a very expert eye.

You could almost imagine you were looking down at the Moon’s surface from the window of a spacecraft!” - Pete Lawrence, presenter, The Sky at Night


City Lights - Wing Ka Ho (Hong Kong)

Photo location: Quarry Bay, Hong Kong

Equipment: Canon EOS 6D DSLR camera, 24mm lens.

Judge’s verdict

“This image makes me feel my place on our planet as we spin and rush through our galaxy at unfathomable velocities.

It is also an important and engaging socio-political statement that connects our contemporary civilization with the stars and our intergalactic neighbours, just as the Egyptians and other stargazing civilizations experienced.” - Ed Robinson, award-winning photographer


Serene Saturn - Damian Peach (UK)

Photo location: Marley Vale, Barbados

Equipment: ZWO ASI174MM monochrome CMOS camera, Celestron C14 telescope, Celestron CI-700 mount

Judge’s verdict

“Every year improvements in technology and the sheer skill and persistence of the astrophotography community push the boundaries of what’s possible.

This is an astonishing shot, with atmospheric features such as storms and the mysterious polar hexagon clearly visible.” - Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer, Royal Observatory Greenwich


The Rainbow Star - Steve Brown (UK)

Photo location: Stokesley, North Yorkshire, UK

Equipment: Canon EOS 600D DSLR camera, 250mm lens, Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer tracking mount.

Judge’s verdict

“For an image to spark such intense debate in the judging room is testament to the artistic integrity of this piece.

It takes just one star – Sirius – up close and personal and treats it to show the effect of our atmosphere.

It is in the true spirit of this competition that technical ability and artistic representation are combined, which in turn enhances each photographer’s individual interpretation of the sky above us in an ever-expanding variety of forms.” – Ed Robinson


Lunar Reversal - Brendan Devine (USA, aged 15)

Photo location: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Equipment: Canon EOS 7D Mk II DSLR camera, Canon EF 100-400mm IS II USM lens, Manfrotto tripod.

Judge's verdict

“Ominous, majestic, graceful Moon. I thought I had ‘seen’ the Moon before, but this image proved me wrong.

This young astrophotographer has put great thought and originality in the preparation, composition and processing of this picture, doubtlessly experiencing much delight in the exercise. A worthy winner.” - Melanie Vandenbrouck, Curator of Art (post-1800), Royal Museums Greenwich


Large Magellanic Cloud, Carlos Fairbairn (Brazil)

Photo location: Luziânia, Goiás, Brazil

Equipment used: Canon EOS 5D Mk III DSLR camera, Canon 200mm lens, Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer mount.

Judge's verdict

“A newcomer serving us an image worthy of an experienced master, capturing the mystique and fascination of the Large Magellanic Cloud.

I can hear Sir Patrick in my imagination saying “Yes, quite simply a superb image. A very, very worthy winner indeed.’” - Jon Culshaw, comedian and BBC Sky at Night Magazine contributor


Iridis - Robert Smith (UK)

Photo location: Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain

Equipment used: Liverpool Telescope, Andor iDus 420 CCD camera

Judge’s verdict

“Just a few years ago this technique of splitting the light from an object into its constituent colours was the preserve of professional scientists.


Now members of the public can play with it too, and show us that it can also be very beautiful.” - Marek Kukula


Chris Bramley is the editor of BBC Sky at Night Magazine.