For the past eight years, astrophotographers from all corners of the globe have sent in their best and more exquisite images of our cosmos, to participate in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year award, run by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, UK. This year’s submissions were a bumper crop with nearly 4500 images entered into the competition, from photographers in 80 countries. In Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Collection 5, the Royal Observatory has put together all the winning and shortlisted images from the 2016 competition. The coffee-table book contains 140 large glossy photographs of a variety of celestial objects, all photographed from the Earth. While the Royal Observatory hosts a free exhibition of the winners each year, this book offers readers world-over a chance to view these breath-taking images.

The competition has eight different categories including skyscapes, auroras, galaxies, people and space. There is also a separate competition for entrants aged 15 and under, where the subject can be anything astronomical. The competition now also boasts two special prizes – the Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer, for first-time entrants who have become involved in astrophotography only for the past year; and the Robotic Scope Prize, which is given to photographs taken with a remotely controlled telescope.

The entries are judged by a panel that includes astronomers, photographers and artists, with the book containing a poignant foreword penned by judge and Turner-prize-winning fine-art photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. “Astronomy transcends borders and cultures,” he writes, recounting how European astronomers in the 18th century were given special “safe passage” to observe a transit of Venus, despite the fact that France and Britain were then at war. “In today’s divided world, maybe astronomy can still help bring us together.”