There is a huge, wide, wonderful, and beautiful Universe beyond the earth's existence, although not all of it is visible to most of us here on this pale blue dot. We may see stars, galaxies, and the Milky Way's disk as specks and smears of light.
The Royal Observatory Greenwich in the United Kingdom has shortlisted outstanding astrophotographers for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year award.
Over 3,000 entries from 67 countries around the world were submitted for prizes in nine categories, two special awards, and the grand prize will be awarded to the photographer who is rated the best overall.
From near to far, the shortlist includes images of Spaceship Earth against its glistening stars; to the Solar System; to more distant nebulae; and galaxies colliding by way of an intricate dance beyond the confines of the Milky Way.
The shortlist of nominees will not be published until September 15, but the announcement of the shortlist means that you may enjoy the nominees immediately. "The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the Universe to know itself."
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars," says Oscar Wilde.
Here's a list of some of our favorites.
Sean Goebel's Circles and Curves
This photo was taken in the California desert in a natural stone formation. As Earth rotates, it shows the stars forming arcs in the sky.
Polaris, the North Star, is at the center, appearing to remain still in the sky due to its location near the North Pole. It shines over the Sierra Nevada mountain range, including Mount Whitney, which is at the left the highest peak on the US continent.
Ignacio Diaz Bobillo's Carina Nebula Suburbs
(Ignacio Diaz Bobillo)
The Carina Nebula, which is located about 8,500 light-years away, is one of the most amazing cosmic clouds we can see in our sky. This small (well, relative to the entire nebula complex) section is known as RCW 53c, and it is seldom photographed in isolation.
This picture, taken from Argentina, uses two colors to represent the hydrogen and oxygen in the cloud that surrounds it.
Carl Gallagher's Icelandic Saga
This image, taken in a single exposure, depicts the aurora borealis shining through a gap in the clouds over the wreck of the once-whaling ship Gardur off the coast of Iceland.
Solar particles colliding with and ionizing particles in Earth's atmosphere are very similar to the process of ionization from stellar radiation that makes clouds like RCW 53c glow.
Lionel Majzik's Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard)
Comet Leonard was discovered in the sky in January of last year, and became so bright in December that it was unvisible, for a moment, with the naked eye. This photograph, which shows Leonard's fascinating tail, was taken at the end of December. The green glow is caused by ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.
Comet Leonard, unfortunately, will not be back: it disintegrated and broke apart as it passed through the Sun.
Yang Sutie's starry sky over the world's highest national highway
Tibet's National Highway 219 is the highest national highway in the world. With a 245-second exposure, the highway shines in the foreground with the light of cars speeding along its sharp corners, and the peaceful array of stars in the Milky Way's disk are visible.
The moon's light is just strewn on the horizon on the Tibet-Bhutan border.
More images of these photographs may be seen on the Royal Museums Greenwich website. The winners will be announced on 15 September 2022.