THE STARS of astrophotography tell a truly impressive story of the cosmos.
The Royal Observatory Greenwich has released its selection of this year's best photos of the night sky after thousands of professional and amateur snappers fought for the $18,000 top prize and the title of Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year.
The 2018 nod has gone to American photographer Brad Goldpaint, who captivated the London judges with his awe-inspiring photo of a man standing under the milky way on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a vast rock formation in eastern Utah.
"This superb image is emblematic of everything it means to be an astrophotographer; the balance between light and dark, the contrasting textures and tones of land and sky and the photographer alone under a starry canopy of breathtaking scale and beauty," judge Will Gater said.
The award has also showcased photos of the breathtaking aurora borealis captured above a fjord in Norway's Lofoten archipelago, August's total solar eclipse, the remarkable parade of planets in our solar system as seen from a backyard and the faint gas cloud known as Witch Head Nebula.
Italian photographer, 15-year-old Fabian Dalpiaz claimed the prize for Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year for his incredible photo of a meteor passing over the magnificent landscape of the Alpe di Siusi.
Australian Peter Ward was also awarded runner up for his picture of the total solar eclipse over Wyoming in the US in August. Picture: Supplied.
Royal Museums Greenwich curator Dr Melanie Vandenbrouck said choosing a winner was "fiendishly difficult."
The competition received over 4200 entries from 91 countries - the best photos are set to be showcased in an exhibit at London's National Maritime Museum.
"Their mesmerising, often astonishing photographs, show us the exquisite complexity of space, and movingly convey our place in the universe," she said.
The competition will run again in 2019, for more information visit www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto