The Year’s Best Astronomy Photography

Each year the Royal Observatory awards the best examples of astronomical photography in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. Awards are given in six categories: Earth and Space, People and Space, Our Solar System, Deep Space, Young Astronomy Photographer, and Best Newcomer. All of this year’s winning photos are currently on display at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, UK until February 2011. Preview some of our favorites after the jump.

Blazing Bristlecone, Tom Lowe
Blazing Bristlecone by Tom Lowe (USA)

Interestingly, the winner of this year’s grand prize attributes a major part of his shot to an accident. “The light on that tree occurred accidentally because I had my headlamp and possibly a camping lantern on while I was taking a series of test shots!” Lowe explains. This is Earth’s view of the Milky Way, looking at the center of it from 26,000 light years away.