The popular Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition by the Royal Observatory Greenwich opens its doors today for its seventh year

The competition has been expanded this year to include a range of new categories.

One of these is Skyscapes, sponsored by Insight Investment, which asks entrants to submit landscape or cityscape images that include features of the  night sky such as the Milky Way.

Also new to the table is the Aurorae category, which asks for photographs featuring auroral activity. Photographer James Woodend won last year’s competition with an image of an Aurora over a glacier lagoon in Iceland (above).

Other new categories include: Our Sun; Our Moon; Stars and Nebulae; Planets, Comets and Asteroids; and Galaxies.

Returning awards include the Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer, which goes to the best photo by an astrophotographer who has been shooting the stars for less than a year (and hasn’t entered the contest before).

PEOPLE & SPACE RUNNER UP: Lost SoulsImage © Julie Fletcher (People and Space category runner-up, 2014 competition)

Dr Marek Kukula, public astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich and judge in the competition said: ‘Over the last six years of the competition we’ve seen some really exciting and beautiful themes and subjects emerging from the astrophotography community. We wanted the competition to reflect the photographers’ interests and so we’ve created the new categories around them. This will really showcase the full range of amazing pictures that are coming in each year and I’m really looking forward to seeing the entries in 2015. As always, there are bound to be some surprises.’

Entries must be submitted by the deadline of April 16. Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Royal Observatory on September 17, with the exhibition of the winning images opening the following day in the Astronomy Centre.

For more images from the competition, take a look at our gallery of last year’s shots.

To find out more and to enter Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015, visit www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto.