While we’re big fans of images of the very small, as brought to us by the Nikon Microscopy Competition, we also admire the really big. And each year, that comes courtesy of the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. This year’s winners were recently announced and have gone on display a the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, UK. But if you can’t make it to London, you can get a taste for what you’re missing below.
Astronomy images span a phenomenal range scale, from things that would fit neatly on Earth (like comets or features on local bodies) to the mind-bogglingly large (like stellar nurseries or entire galaxies). And we frequently observe these objects by using wavelengths the human eye can’t see. So there’s a lot of room for artistic choices about how to make these things both understandable and beautiful. In many cases, this year’s winners have also humanized things by placing the night sky in context, framed by other figures admiring it, or nestled among familiar-looking landscapes.