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Galaxies and auroras glow in glorious winning photos

Our complex universe gets to show off in a spectacular series of winning photos from the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest.

This image won top prize in the contest. Luc Jamet/Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year

There's a new champion in the world of astrophotography. Luc Jamet of France braved a cold and snowy landscape in Norway in March to photograph a solar eclipse.

The result is an image showing stretches of icy hills, the black dot of the moon in front of the sun and Venus as a tiny pinpoint in the sky. Jamet used a Canon EOS 7D camera for the shot.

Jamet's photo took the top overall award in the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest, in which amateur and professional photographers alike vie for recognition. The winning images are spectacular.

This year there's a blazing photo of the sun spitting out into space, a swirl of distant stars against an inky background, comets shooting through the heavens and frozen aurora-lit landscapes. Categories include Galaxies, Auroras, Our Sun and Stars & Nebulae.

Jamet's top image rewards a slow and thoughtful viewing. "The delicate disc of the occulted Sun is perfectly silhouetted in the sky, and you can almost feel the below-zero temperature, the cool breeze of the Arctic. The snow is pristine, as if no one had ever stepped on it. This is an otherworldly landscape, which could be on an as-yet-unexplored planet," writes contest judge Melanie Vandenbrouck.

Over a thousand photographers entered the contest, which is run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in the UK. Winning images are on display in an exhibition at the observatory in London until June 26. If you can't make it to London, there is also an annual "Astronomy Photographer of the Year" book available to purchase online.

The winning photographs show the diversity of our universe, whether in an intimate study of star trails over a Hong Kong mountain or the stretching tail of a comet sailing in front of a sparkling nebula.