spaceSpace and PhysicsspaceAstronomy

Winners Of Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2023 Are Truly Out Of This World

What do you win in a space talent competition? A constellation prize.

Holly Large - Editorial Assistant

Holly Large

Holly Large - Editorial Assistant

Holly Large

Editorial Assistant

Holly is a graduate medical biochemist with an enthusiasm for making science interesting, fun and accessible.

Editorial Assistant

Plasma arc next to the Andromeda Galaxy

Overall winner: Andromeda, Unexpected

Image credit: © Marcel Drechsler, Xavier Strottner and Yann Sainty

The winners of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2023 have been announced, and the images are as stunning as ever. An unexpected plasma arc, galactic neighbors, and a unique view of Venus are all among the winning photographs.

This year’s competition had over 4,000 entries from 64 countries, but Marcel Drechsler, Xavier Strottner, and Yann Sainty took home the top prize for their photograph “Andromeda, Unexpected”.


The image features something quite unexpected next to the Andromeda galaxy – a massive plasma arc. This surprising discovery has since led to a transnational collaboration investigating the arc structure.

“This astrophoto is as spectacular as [it is] valuable. It not only presents Andromeda in a new way, but also raises the quality of astrophotography to a higher level,” said judge László Francsics in a statement sent to IFLScience.

The competition also runs an award for Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year, which was won by 14-year-olds Runwei Xu and Binyu Wang.

The Running Chicken Nebula
Winner (Young): The Running Chicken Nebula
Image credit: © Runwei Xu and Binyu Wang

In what judge and professional astronomer Yuri Beletsky described as a “strikingly beautiful picture”, the two teens captured the colorful Running Chicken Nebula, located over 6,000 light-years away from Earth in the Centaurus constellation.


Other categories for the competition include images of aurorae, distant stars and planets, and of course, our Sun and Moon. Check out some of the winning photographs below.

Circle of green aurora around a mountain
Runner-Up (Aurorae): Circle of Light
Image credit: © Andreas Ettl
The planet Venus
Winner (Planets, Comets & Asteroids): Suspended in the Sunbeam
Image credit: © Tom Williams
Pink firework-like sprites against a starry sky.
Winner (Skyscapes): Grand Cosmic Fireworks
Image credit: © Angel An

Dr Ed Bloomer, astronomer at Royal Observatory Greenwich said, “Once again, entrants to the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition have conspired to make things difficult for the judges, with a flood of high-quality images covering an amazing range of targets.”  

“The highlight of this year is perhaps a number of genuine discoveries being imaged, but we've had wonderful efforts in every category and I'm particularly pleased to see the continued strength of our young entrants and those eligible for The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer. It has led to some intense debate amongst the judges as we try to choose the very best of the best, but we don’t mind!”

A question mark-like structure on the Sun
Winner (Our Sun): A Sun Question
Image credit: © Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau
Neighboring galaxies
Highly Commended (Galaxies): Neighbours
Image credit: © Paul Montague
Red nebula
Winner (Stars & Nebulae): New Class of Galactic Nebulae Around the Star YY Hya
Image credit: © Marcel Drechsler

The winning images will be on display at the National Maritime Museum, London, from September 16.


Check out our video if you want to learn how to take amazing space photos of your own!


spaceSpace and PhysicsspaceAstronomy
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