Published on February 5, 2014 | by Catherine Van de Stouwe


Exhibition review: Astronomy Photographer of the Year


Fredrik Broms' entry , Green Energy,  in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Award

Fredrik Broms’ entry, Green Energy, depicts the stunning aurora borealis. [Fredrik Broms via Royal Observatory]

Accustomed to the perpetual orange glow of the London sky at night, I was slightly underwhelmed by the small exhibition room in the bowels of the Royal Observatory.

The similar orange glow of the mood lighting does, at least, make the average city dweller feel at home.

But there is no denying the beauty and the clarity of the photography that is displayed. So much so that I am tempted to pick up my Thermos and woolly hat and hike up the highest hill in London to see something other than the occasional star that does manage to become visible through the city smog.

Now into its fifth year, the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is divided into five categories: Earth and Space, Our Solar System, Deep Space, Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year – this year won by 14-year-old Jacob Marchio from the USA – and, finally, a Special Prizes category for those impressive images that could not be denied a place in the limelight.


To me the most striking photographs are those from the Earth and Space section. The aptly named Green Energy by Norwegian photographer, Fredrik Broms, captures the aurora borealis against a snowy mountain that many can only dream of seeing.

Mark Gee won the overall competition with Guiding Light to the Stars. [Mark Gee via Royal Observatory]

The overall winner of the competition came from Mark Gee and his photograph, Guiding Light to the Stars. Taken in the early hours of the morning on New Zealand’s North Island, Gee manages to capture the central region of the Milky-way, a staggering 26,000 light years away. The image is so clear that neighbouring galaxies are also visible against the millions of stars lighting the sky.

Whether an occasional enthusiast, or a dedicated sky watcher, the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition shows that space is not as far as we think it is.

Admission to the Astronomy Photographer of the Year show is free. Check the website for prices of other attractions and exhibitions at the Royal Observatory.




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