It’s been over 170 years since the first photograph was made of the moon, and now it’s not unusual to capture the universe 12 million light years away. And space photography is only zooming our gaze into the great beyond, where just last year the most distant galaxy in the universe — 13.3 billion light years away — was detected with the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, and this year the sharpest image yet was taken of the night sky. Yet the most stunning captures of space dwarfing our little Earth aren’t always created by NASA or astronomy professionals; other photographers also have their lenses trained to the stars.
Last week, an exhibition opened with the top photographs from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013 competition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich‘s Astronomy Centre in London, with a book created in partnership with Collins released alongside. Out of the over 1,200 entries from 49 countries submitted for the competition’s fifth year, the winner with the prestigious title of Astronomy Photographer of the Year was Australian photographer Mark Gee. His “Guiding Light to the Stars” (pictured above) contrasts the human-generated gleam of a New Zealand lighthouse with the curving light of the Milky Way. (And if you like that, his website has all sorts of stunning starry views that make humankind seem small.) In addition, the exhibition has stellar examples of the year in space photography through categories like Earth and Space, Deep Space, Our Solar System, People and Space, Robotic Scope, and Young Astrophotographers (a brilliant portemanteau there).
So check out a selection of the year’s best space photographs below, from 14-year-old Jacob Marchio’s striking composition of the moon, to a view of the Aurora Borealis contorted in the sky above Norway, to shots boring into deep space. And if you want even more of the year in space photography, visit the Flickr pool where all the contestant photographs were submitted (don’t miss the shipwreck that appears to be voyaging off into the next dimension). If someone can turn them into some sort of morphing media projection, I’m ready to settle in for some moonage daydreaming.
Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013 is on view at the Royal Observatory Greenwich (Blackheath Ave, Greenwich, Greater London) through February 23, 2014. The Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013 book is available from Collins.