Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012 is an exhibition held at the Royal Observatory Greenwich showcasing some incredible images of the space.
Star Icefall: Orion, Taurus and the Pleiades form the backdrop to this eerie frozen landscape. Though the stars appear to gleam with a cold, frosty light, bright-blue stars like the Pleiades can be as hot as 30,000 degrees Celsius. Cooler orange stars such as Betelgeuse and Aldebaran are still a scorching 3500 degrees Celsius.
Summer Nights in Michigan: The rotation of the Earth draws the stars out into neat trails, while down on the ground fireflies creates a crazy pattern.
The Milky Way View from the Piton de l’Eau, Réunion Island: This is a spectacular view of the Milky Way arching over a lake on the island of Réunion. The bright patch to the left of the image marks the bulge of stars at the heart of our galaxy.
The Whirlpool: The Whirlpool is a spiral galaxy and for centuries astronomers have studied it in order to understand how galaxies form and evolve. Here the photographer has produced a sharp, clear image in which every detail of the galaxy is visible.
Simeis 147 Supernova Remnant: The red debris is of a massive star which exploded around 40,000 years ago. As the wreckage continues to spread out into space it collides with the dust and gas between the stars, forming this spagetti like pattern.
The Witch's Broom: The ‘Witch’s Broom’ is the glowing debris from a supernova explosion – which happens when a massive star dies. Although the supernova occurred several thousand years ago, the gaseous debris is still expanding outwards, producing this huge cloud-like structure.
The Perseus Cluster: The harder you look, the more you see in this astonishing view of deep space. The points of light are relatively nearby stars in our own Milky Way galaxy. Far beyond them, at a staggering distance of almost 250 million light years, lie the myriad galaxies of the Perseus Cluster, also known as Abell 426. The cluster contains thousands of individual galaxies.
Transit of Venus 2012 in Hydrogen-Alpha: In previous centuries, careful observations of transits of Venus were used to make the first accurate measurement of the distance between the Earth and the Sun. This image, taken from London in 2012, sums up the excitement of transit chasers throughout history: miss it and you may have to wait more than a century until the next one!
Comet C: Comet Garradd was discovered in 2009 as it approached the inner Solar System. It became visible through binoculars in 2011.
Sky away from the Lights: The distant lights of towns and villages beneath the Milky Way.