A photo of annular solar eclipse in Tibet wins 2021 Astronomy Photographer of the Year

© Shuchang Dong

Astronomy Photographer of the Year is one of the contests I always look forward to. It has just announced its 2021, and just as always – I’m definitely not disappointed. The winning image is a striking photo of the last year’s annular solar eclipse, but there are many more photos that will make your jaw drop. So, without further ado, let’s check them out!

Astronomy Photographer of the Year is run by Royal Observatory Greenwich in association with BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Now in its thirteenth year, the competition received over 4,500 entries from 75 countries around the world. Chinese photographer Shuchang Dong is this year’s overall winner with his image The Golden Ring. In addition, this photo earned him the winning title in the Our Sun category.

I love how simple, yet striking this image is. And I liked it even more when I read about how it was taken. On 21 June last year, there was an annular solar eclipse and the photographer made sure not to miss it. He decided to go to Ali in Tibet to shoot it because it has year-round sunny weather. But who would have predicted – there were dark clouds all over the sky during the eclipse. What a bummer, right? However, within a minute of the annular eclipse, the sunshine pierced through the clouds.  Shuchang captured that moment, and the sun soon disappeared again. All’s well that ends well, I guess, and this definitely ended well for the Chinese photographer.

15-year-old Zhipu Wang, also from China, has won the top prize in the Young Competition category. He composed the Sun, the Moon, and the planets of the Solar System into a single image.

© Zhipu Wang

This year’s winners and shortlisted entries and a selection of previous winners will be published by Collins in the competition’s official book. It’s available for pre-order exclusively at Royal Museums Greenwich shops and online, but it will be on sale across all bookstores from 30 September for £25.

All winning and shortlisted images will be on display at National Maritime Museum from 18 September 2021 until 7 August 2022. You can find out more about the exhibition and the contest here, and if you’re considering submitting your photos for the 2022 contest, follow this link.

And now, for the best part: the winning images by categories. Enjoy them below, and check out photos from previous years too:

Our Sun

© Shuchang Dong (China), The Golden Ring (Winner and Overall Winner)

© Vincent Bouchama (France), The Sun sharing its Crown with a Comet (Runner-Up)

© Alan Friedman (USA), Curtain of Hydrogen (Highly Commended)


© Dmitrii Rybalka (Russia), Polar Lights Dance (Winner)

© Thomas Kast (Finland), Proper Welcome for the Moon (Runner-Up)

© Larryn Rae (New Zealand), Goðafoss Flow (Highly Commended)


© Zhong Wu (China), The Milky Ring (Winner)

© Russell Croman (USA), The Nebulae of the Triangulum Galaxy (Runner-Up)

© Nicolas Rolland (France) and Martin Pugh (Australia), A Smiley in Space (Highly Commended)

Our Moon

© Nicolas Lefaudeux (France), Beyond the Limb (Winner)

© Göran Strand (Sweden), Lunar Halo (Runner-Up)

© Stefan Buda (Australia), Iridum to Imbrium (Highly Commended)

People and Space

© Deepal Ratnayaka (UK),  Lockdown (Winner)

© André van der Hoeven (Netherlands), A Lonely Ship Under the Stars (Runner-Up)

© Nicholas Roemmelt (Germany), Break of a New Day (Highly Commended)

Planets, Comets and Asteroids

© Frank Kuszaj (USA), A Colourful Quadrantid Meteor (Winner)

© Damian Peach (UK), Perseverance (Runner-Up)

© Martin Lewis (UK), 3° from the Sun – The Horn Extensions of Venus (Highly Commended)


© Jeffrey Lovelace (USA), Luna Dunes (Winner)

© Dario Giannobile (Italy), Moon Over Mount Etna South-East Crater (Runner- Up)

© Jin Yang (China), Van Gogh’s Sketchpad (Highly Commended)

Stars and Nebulae

Terry Hancock (UK), California Dreamin’ NGC 1499 (Winner)

© Bogdan Borz (Romania), Clouds in IC 2944 (Runner-Up)

© Min Xie (USA), The Colour Splash of Cygnus Loop (Highly Commended)

Young Competition

© 至璞 王 (Zhipu Wang), (China – aged 15), Family Photo of the Solar System (Winner)

© Hassaana Begam and Aathilah Maryam. H (India – aged 13 and 14), Nebula (Runner-Up)

© Davy van der Hoeven (Netherlands – aged 13), Starry Beach in Space (Highly Commended)

© Julian Shapiro (USA – aged 13),  Neptune and Triton (Highly Commended)

© Alice Fock Hang (Reunion – aged 11), Satellite Cluster around 47 Tucan (Highly Commended)

Special Prize: The Manju Mehrotra Family Trust Prize for Best Newcomer

Paul Eckhardt (USA), Falcon 9 Soars Past the Moon (Winner)

Special Prize: Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation

Leonardo Di Maggio (UK), Celestial Fracture (Winner, joint)

Sergio Díaz Ruiz (Spain), Another Cloudy Day on Jupiter (Winner, joint)

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