Chinese photographer Yu Jun has beaten thousands of amateur and professional photographers from around the world to win the grand prize with a striking image of a solar eclipse

Winner: Baily’s Beads © Yu Jun (China)

Overall and Our Sun winner: Baily’s Beads © Yu Jun (China)

Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year judges were captivated by Jun’s unusual composite shot illustrating the phenomenon of Baily’s Beads, taken during the total solar eclipse on 9th March 2016 from Indonesia during a tiny window of mere minutes. Competition judge and Royal Observatory Public Astronomer, Dr Mark Kukula said: “This is such a visually striking image, with its succession of fiery arcs all perfectly balanced around the pitch black circle of totality. It’s even more impressive when you realise what it shows: the progress of a solar eclipse, all compressed into a single frame with consummate skill and precision. A tremendous achievement that pushes the boundaries of what modern astrophotography can achieve.”

Judges have praised the range of ‘fantastic images’ entered into this year’s contest. More highlights include the impressive arrays of colour exhibited by the brightest star in our sky, Sirius, taken by UK photographer Steve Brown, the touching scene of a Maasai warrior imparting his knowledge of the stars to his son shot by Robin Stuart (Kenya) and the arresting sight of Comet Catalina coursing across the night sky taken by Austrian photographer Gerald Rhemann. There were also a number of entries by young photographers recognised, including a highly commended, impressive shot of Jupiter, taken by Olivia Williamson from the UK, aged 12.

Now in its eighth year, the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year’s 2016 competition received a record number of more than 4,500 entries from over 80 countries, with winners honoured from around the globe. The best of these – winners, runners-up or highly commended – will now be showcased in a free public exhibition at the Royal Observatory until 28th June 2017, as well as featured in an official photo book.

For more information about this year’s winners and exhibition or find out how to enter next year’s competition, visit www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto

More entries can be seen below.