Gaze in Wonder at These Stunning Views of the Cosmos

Gaze in Wonder at These Stunning Views of the Cosmos

The cosmos is a hostile but beautiful place; from Earth, its phenomena — from our Sun and the aurorae it generates to nebulae and distant galaxies — are worth capturing.

The winners of the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photography of the Year competition are set to be announced this September, and in anticipation of the announcement, we’re sharing photos on the observatory’s shortlist.

“Dolbadarn Castle, Home of Welsh Princes”

A photograph of Dolbadarn Castle in Wales. (Photo: Robert Price)

Dolbadarn Castle in Wales was built in the 12th century and remains standing. Above it, the Milky Way looms just as it did centuries ago.

“Pleione’s Daughters”

The Pleiades star cluster. (Image: Andre Vilhena)

Only the brightest stars in the Pleiades cluster are visible to the naked eye. Thankfully this image was taken using long exposures through a telescope, so plenty of the 1,000-odd stars in the cluster are visible.

“Comet 2022 E3 Above Snowy Mount Etna”

Mt. Etna with the Green Comet. (Photo: Dario Giannobile)

Mount Etna is a volcano in Sicily. In this shot, the comet 2022 E3 — the so-called “Green Comet” that got so many excited when it made its close approach of Earth — flies behind the snowy mountaintop.

“On Top of the Dream”

The Milky Way over Pain de Sucre, a mountain on the border of France and Italy. (Photo: Jeff Graphy)

This breathtaking image shows our galaxy’s cross-section over a mountain that straddles the French and Italian border.

“Celestial Equator Above First World War Trench Memorial”

A long-exposure image of star trails over Northern France. (Photo: Louis Leroux-Gere)

Star trails over trenches from World War I make for a weird dichotomy in this long-exposure photograph. The photograph took over five hours to produce.


The Milky Way over an abandoned processing planet in Namibia. (Photo: Vikas Chander)

This photo shows part of a ghost town in Namibia. The Milky Way looms an illustrious blue-pink above.

“C/2021 A1 (Leonard) in Sky of Israel”

A comet over the Negev desert. (Photo: Alex Savenok)

A comet named Leonard is seen here over the Negev desert. The comet faded from view in March 2022, when its orbit eventually brought it too close to the Sun. They should’ve named it Comet Icarus.

“Mare Crisium: From Light to Dark”

The lunar sea Mare Crisium. (Image: Andrea Vanoni)

This image is made up of two images of Mare Crisium, a lunar sea northeast of Mare Ttanquillitatis.

“St. Agnes”

The Milky Way over the isle of St. Agnes. (Photo: Derek Horlock)

Taken from St. Agnes, an island southwest of the United Kingdom, this image shows a star-studded portrait of the Milky Way.

“The Majestic Tarantula Nebula”

A section of the Tarantula Nebula (NGC 2070) (Image: Steeve Body)

This stupendous shot of the Tarantula Nebula, which lies 161,000 light-years from Earth, showcases the range of colours present in the nebula’s tendrils. The nebula was imaged by the Webb Space Telescope last year.

“RCW 58: Wolf Rayet Bubble”

A bubble nebula called RCW58. (Image: Mark Hanson; Mike Selby)

This is a Wolf Rayet bubble nebula. Wolf Rayet stars are hot, massive stars that are quickly losing their mass. The star is visible here at the nebula’s centre.

“Pandora’s Box”

The Milky Way looms behind a graffito. (Photo: Derek Horlock)

The Milky Way is in the background of this image taken on the Greek island of Naxos. In the foreground is a street art painting of Pandora done by the Balinese artist Wild Drawing.

“NGC 3521: Marquise in the Sky”

NGC 3521, a spiral galaxy. (Image: Mark Hanson; Mike Selby)

The spiral galaxy NGC 3521 looms serenely in this image, captured with two telescopes over a total exposure time of 19 hours. The image was taken from the El Sauce Observatory in Chile.

“Solar Flare X1 from AR2994 in ‘Motion’”

An arresting image of a solar flare. (Image: Miguel Claro)

This image was extracted from a 27-minute timelapse of a solar flare that occurred on April 30, 2022.

“Nebulae of the Small Magellanic Cloud”

The Small Magellanic Cloud. (Image: Jonathan Lodge)

This image includes the Small Magellanic Cloud at centre, the globular cluster 47 Tucanae at top, and NGC 362, another globular cluster, at left.

“NGC 1097 and Tidal Tails”

A barred spiral galaxy called NGC 1097. (Image: Mike Selby)

This is NGC 1097, a barred spiral galaxy that sits about 50 million light-years from Earth. The galaxy’s spiral arms are remarkably clear in this image, taken with two telescopes and multiple exposures totaling 12 hours.

“Eastern Veil: NGC6992/6995″

The Veil Nebula. (Image: Jia You)

This ethereal shot of the cotton-candy-coloured Veil Nebula showcases the supernova remnant’s shape and structure. The nebula is made up of hot gases including oxygen, hydrogen, and sulphur.

“Cassinified Pluto”

A monochrome image of Pluto. (Image: Sergio Díaz Ruiz)

This image of Pluto was produced using NASA data, and was inspired by Cassini’s Carte de la Lune (map of the moon) made in the late 17th century.

“Arctic Gates”

The Northern lights over Arctic Henge. (Photo: Daniel Viñé Garcia)

A shot of the sundial Arctic Henge in Iceland shows the sweeping green aurora above it; the aurora is caused by high-energy particles from the Sun interacting with Earth’s magnetic field.

“Emerald Roots”

The Northern Lights over Vestrahorn, a mountain in Iceland. (Photo: Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti)

This shot of the aurora practically turns night into day. At right, the Moon looms a Sun-like orange in the sky.

“Curtain of Light”

The aurora over Olstind mountain, Norway. (Photo: Andreas Ettl)

This photograph of the aurora shows the phenomenon over a large Norwegian mountain range.

“Aurora Over the Great Pollet Sea Arch”

The aurora as seen from Ireland. (Photo: Brendan Alexander)

The Northern Lights loom behind rocks on the coast of Ireland in February 2023. A coronal mass ejection from the Sun allowed aurorae to be seen farther south than normal.

“Radio Polaris”

Streaks of stars over a radio telescope antenna at Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory. (Photo: João Yordanov Serralheiro)

In this shot, star trails make delightful arcs in the sky over a decommissioned radio telescope antenna.

“The Milky Way”

The Milky Way. (Photo: Kush Chandaria)

The Milky Way as seen from Botswana’s Okavango Delta. The region has little light pollution, allowing observers to see the structure with their naked eyes.

“Jellyfish Nebula”

The Jellyfish Nebula. (Image: Peter Larkin)

This 11-hour exposure taken through a telescope shows the Jellyfish Nebula, a supernovae remnant in Gemini. The stars in the image have been removed to highlight the nebula’s other features: large billows of gas and dust.

“Solargraph 209 days”

A solargraph taken in Bloomingdale, Illinois. (Photo: Ksawery Wróbel)

A solargraph of a Burger King in Illinois. Solargraphs are pinhole images that capture the Sun’s path in the sky. Each streak in the sky is a day of the Sun’s transit.


The Milky Way over White Desert National Park in Egypt. (Photo: Burak Esenbey)

Our galaxy’s cross-section — the Milky Way — is visible in this arresting image taken from White Desert National Park in Egypt.

“Dance of the Moons”

Jupiter, with two of its moons in the foreground. (Photo: Damian Peach)

Jupiter is a gas giant and the largest planet in our solar system. Here, the world is accompanied by Europa (silvery) and Io (yellow, bottom-left), two of its moons.

“Colourful Saturn”

The ringed planet Saturn in a recent telescope image. (Photo: Damian Peach)

This shot of Saturn showcases the planet’s most iconic feature: vast ring structures that surround the gas giant. In this image one can make out the Cassini Division, or the gap between the two main ring structures.

“China Space Station Transits Active Sun”

The Sun with the transit of the CSS in foreground. (Image: Letian Wang)

This shot of the Sun includes images showing the China Space Station’s transit of our host star.

“The Great Solar Flare”

The Sun, with a large solar flare on its left side. (Image: Mehmet Ergün)

This image of the Sun showcases the star’s volatility. On its left, a large solar flare — about 700,065 km long (700,000 kilometers long) — spews out from the star.

“Grazing Mammoths”

An image of the Sun showing a solar prominence — an eruption of hydrogen gas. (Image: Rafael Schmall)

A close-up of the Sun reveals a solar prominence, or an eruption of hydrogen, from its surface. As the photo references, the prominence resembles woolly mammoths ranging the solar surface.

“Crescent Moon in a Magical Sunset”

A composite image of the moon. (Image: Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau)

This image is actually a composite of three taken on August 1, 2022, from Argentina. The image shows the moon at sunset.

“Ball of Rock”

A composite image of the Moon. (Image: Rich Addis)

This shot of the Moon shows Earth’s satellite 78 per cent illuminated. It shows off the Moon’s craters and surface features in sharp detail.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.