Astronomy Photo Contest Finalists Will Take Your Breath Away

Comets, planets and more, oh my! Can you predict the winners?


Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

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1 of 36 Esa Pekka Isomursu

Solar Wind Power

This photo, one of the finalists in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, shows a auroral corona behind a wind turbine and was taken in northern Finland.

2 of 36 Stefan Liebermann


Marvel at the Northern Lights shining over the Icelandic mountain Vestrahorn.

3 of 36 Carl Gallagher

An Icelandic Saga

Photographer Carl Gallagher captured this image of the Aurora Borealis over the wreck of the Gardur in Iceland. The photographer was on a nine-day road trip.

4 of 36 Shane Turgeon

Electric Wizardry

The Northern Lights are seen reflected in a lake in Alberta, Canada.

5 of 36 David Loose

Messier 78

This photo shows Messier 78, a reflection nebula near Orion.

6 of 36 Liu Xuemei

Radio Telescope

The Mingantu Astronomical Observatory in Inner Mongolia is shown silhouetted against the night sky.

7 of 36 Mark Hanson, Mike Selby

Arp 271: Cosmic Collision

NGC 5426 and NGC 5427 are two spiral galaxies known collectively as Arp 271.

8 of 36 Peter Ward

Hydra's Pinwheel

The Southern Pinwheel Galaxy was first observed on Feb. 23, 1752, and this finalist photo was taken exactly 270 years later.

9 of 36 Terry Robison

Interacting Galaxies in Eridanus

This pair of interacting galaxies are located in the southern constellation of Eridanus, which means "The River."

10 of 36 Lynda Laird

Earth Cyanotype

The photographer created a photo montage of Earth using images from the Suomi NPP satellite. 

11 of 36 Sergio Diaz Ruiz

Busy Star

This image depicts the busy surface and coronal activity of the sun.

12 of 36 Noah Kujawski

Inverted Minerals

This lunar surface contains hidden colors within the soil, caused by different minerals. Here, the colors have been enhanced and inverted.

13 of 36 Tom Glenn

Above the Lunar South Pole

This composite of images of the lunar south pole was created on two different dates.

14 of 36 Andrea Vanoni

Fly Over the South Pole

Here, you can see the craters and mountains at the lunar south pole.

15 of 36 Simon Tang

Clouds of Hydrogen Gas

Clouds of hydrogen gas give way as the magnetic field lines of the sun snap and clash together.

16 of 36 Alessandro Ravagnin

Partial Eclipse of the Sun in H-alpha

A partial eclipse of the sun as seen from the Veneto region of Italy.

17 of 36 Stuart Green

Solar Inferno

The photographer selectively filtered out all wavelengths of light except a narrow red band (known as the H-alphaline) to reveal an active region of change of the sun.

18 of 36

Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard)

Comet Leonard was discovered on Jan. 3, 2021, by G.J. Leonard.

19 of 36 Flavio Fortunato

Saturn and its Moons

Saturn's moons are distributed almost symmetrically around the planet, balancing the composition of this photograph. 

20 of 36 Damian Peach

The Jovian Family

Jupiter is shown with three of its largest moons.

21 of 36 Hannah Rochford

Equinox Moon and Glastonbury Tor

This finalist captures people enjoying the full harvest moon rising behind Glastonbury Tor in the UK.

22 of 36 Yang Sutie

The Starry Sky Over the World's Highest National Highway

National Highway 219, the highest national highway in the world, snakes through the foreground. The photo was taken in Shannan, Tibet, China.

23 of 36 Sean Goebel

Moonrise Over Los Angeles

This finalist photo highlights the moon high above the mountains and iconic skyline of Los Angeles.

24 of 36 Takanobu Kurosaki

Rverside of Funakawa in Spring

Breathtaking cherry trees line the Funakawa River in Japan, while only a little moonlight breaks through the sky.

25 of 36 Derek Horlock

Stacks and Stones

The Milky Way pierces through the night sky above stacked stones on the beach at St. Agnes in the Isles of Scilly in the UK.

26 of 36 Mihail Minkov

Ladder to the Stars

This photo is actually a stacked shot of 15 exposures, taken at Shiroka Polyana Dam in Bulgaria.

27 of 36 Marcin Zajac

Oregon Coast

The Milky Way is shown above the southern Oregon coast.

28 of 36 Gen Kiryu


The Milky Way rises above the research pier of the Marine Research Institute in Japan.

29 of 36 Jake Mosher

Crossing the Madison

The Milky Way is shown over the Three Dollar Bridge in Montana.

30 of 36 Sean Goebel

Circles and Curves

Stars circle around Polaris in this stack of 33 four-minute exposures.

31 of 36 Vikas Chander

Chidiya Tapu

The Milky Way mirrors the water at the nature reserve at Chidiya Tapu in India's Andaman Islands.

32 of 36 Bray Falls

The Crescent Nebula

A deep view of the Crescent Nebula in Cygnus.

33 of 36 Paul Milvain

The Rolling Waves of Vela

This image, taken from Australia, captures a region on the edge of the constellation Vela.

34 of 36 Ignacio Diaz Bobillo

Suburbs of Carina Nebula

The main object in this image is a nebula cataloged as RCW 53c and seldom captured by photographers.

35 of 36 Binyu Wang

A Little Devil Riding on the Head of a Dragon

This image shows the nebula IC 1848 and its core, IC 1871.

36 of 36 Zezhen Zhou

Pickering's Triangle in Light-Polluted City

Growing light pollution in cities is one of the major challenges faced by astrophotographers. Zezhen Zhou used narrow bandpass filters to capture this image of NGC 6979 (Pickering's Triangle) in Shaoxing, China.

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