Shortlisting Astronomy Photographer of the Year

Shortlisting for the Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2019 competition has begun. BBC Sky at Night Magazine's art editor Steve Marsh is part of this year's judging panel, and reveals which astro images make the biggest impact.

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Judges of this year’s Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition meet at the Royal Observatory Greenwich to begin the shortlisting process. Image Credit: Steve Marsh / BBC Sky at Night Magazine

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2019 has seen the highest number of entries ever to the Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.

As a newly-appointed judge of the competition, I travelled to the Royal Observatory Greenwich to join the other judges for two days of shortlisting, intended to narrow the field down to a selection we can choose from on the final judging day later in the year.

We’ve already trimmed them down from the many thousands of images entered, but almost 2,000 remain.

Having been involved with the competition since its conception 11 years ago via my work on BBC Sky at Night Magazine, it’s a real honour for me to take on the mantle of judge.

Not to mention humbling as I get to assess the quality of images that even I, as art editor of an astronomy magazine, have never seen the likes of.

And an extremely challenging job it has proven to be, as we had to judge not only on technical proficiency but also artistic merit, originality, composition, print-worthiness and even how well the images would display on a lightbox in the final exhibition.

It’s a lot to consider and sometimes led to some pretty strong opinions amongst judges.

One aspect that stood out for me was the entrants’ ability to still find new ways to image the night sky.

The winners of this year's competition will be announced at a special ceremony at the National Martime Museum in Greenwich. Image Credit: National Martime Museum
The winners of this year’s competition will be announced at a special ceremony at the National Martime Museum in Greenwich. Image Credit: National Martime Museum

This really became apparent when we looked at the variation of colours, textures and creative techniques on show in the final shortlist for the ‘Our Moon’ category. A grey world captured in countless vividly interesting and different ways.

For me personally, judging such incredible images initially came down to two factors: was the image well taken, and was it something I hadn’t seen before?

As you can imagine, with many thousands of images entered there are a lot of repeating themes and ideas.

The competition exists not only to find the best astrophotography in the world but also to showcase the imagination and creativity of those photographers.

I hope that we’ll be able to maintain the high standards set by previous years when we meet again in a couple of months to decide on the winners of each category.


The winners, runners up and highly commended entries from this year will appear alongside some of the best shortlisted images in a dedicated gallery space at the National Maritime Museum, featuring 100 breathtaking astrophotos.

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Visit the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with the competition.