The Royal Observatory announced the winners of its annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, and the photographs truly open us up to a whole new world.
The Observatory received a record-breaking amount of entries from photographers in over 50 countries. The photographs that were shot over the past two years ranged from images of the edge of space to the fiery intensity of the blazing sun.
British photographer James Woodend was awarded the winning photograph for the "Earth and Space" category with his image of the Northern Lights reflected off the Jökulsarlon lagoon in Iceland. The lime-green lights curve on in the sky and in the water, with the mountainous glaciers captured in between.
Runner-up for this category was awarded to Australian photographer Matt James for "Wind Farm Star Trails," followed by U.S. photographer Patrick Cullis who is credited for taking "Moon Balloon," a photograph taken 87,000 feet about the ground that captures the earth from the edge of space.
Catalin Bedlda's "Totality from Above the Clouds," and O Chul Kwon's "Venus-Lunar Occultation" rounded out the top five.
The winners of the "Deep Space" category went to Bill Snyder of the U.S., followed by photographs by David Fitz-Henry, J.P Metsävainio, Rogelio Bernal Andreo and Marco Lorenzi.
British photographer Alexandra Hark won the best photograph in the "Our Solar System" category, followed by runner-up George Tarsoudis for "Best of the Caters."
Hart also earned the number three spot for her "Solar Nexus" photograph, which showed the vibrant and fiery yellows of the Sun's surface that twists under magnetic forces.
American photographer Stephen Ramsden and Turkey's Tunç Tezel rounded out the top five for this category.
15-year-old American twins Shishir and Shashank Dholakia's "The Horsehead Nebula" was chosen as the top winner of the best photograph in Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year" category.
Eugen Kamenew won the best photo for "Special Prize: People and Space." Chris Murphy won for "Special Prize: Sir Patrick Moore prize for Best Newcomer," and Mark Hanson won for "Robotic Scope Image of the Year."
"This year two things stood out for me while judging: the record-breaking number of 2,500 entries from a truly global community of astrophotographers, and the staggering quality of the images, " says Chris Bramley, a judge for the competition and editor of the BBC Sky at Night Magazine. "It was regularly hard to believe that many were taken from the surface of the Earth and not a space telescope orbiting our planet."
The winning images are on display at the Royal Observatory.