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From cosmic dust to a hidden galaxy: Here are the 24 most stunning shots of space from the past year

From cosmic dust to a hidden galaxy: Here are the 24 most stunning shots of space from the past year

Magic © Jingyi Zhang Astronomy photographer of the year 2018Jingyi Zhang/National Maritime Museum

Striking shots of the Milky Way under a thunderstorm, snow reflecting the northern lights, and the International Space Station flying between sun spots are among the photographs shortlisted for this year's Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year award.

Astronomer and competition judge Dr Marek Kulula told Business Insider that astrophotography is both an essential scientific tool and "an invitation to take a pause from our busy lives and reflect on our place in the grand scheme of things."

Many of the photographs in this collection didn't come easy. One of the Northern Lights in Swedish Laplan,d for example, was taken from a tiny cave in -15 degrees Fahrenheit.

The competition winners will be announced on October 23 at the Royal Greenwich Observatory in London.

Scroll down to see the striking photos shortlisted for this year's prize.

The Milky Way lights up the night sky in this shot taken in New Zealand's Cable Bay. Photographer Mark Gee stitched 42 photographs together to create this panoramic image. Mark Gee/National Maritime Museum

"In today’s light-polluted cities, it’s becoming harder and harder for most of us to see the full glory of the night sky but [this competition] reminds us that we live on a very beautiful planet, in a universe full of wonders," Kulula told Business Insider.

The Eagle Nebula, also known as Messier 16, is a young cluster of stars surrounded by hot hydrogen gas lying 7,000 light years from earth. Marcel Drechsler captured the famous Pillars of Creation — collections of interstellar dust — in the center of his photo. Marcel Drechsler/National Maritime Museum

"The camera can see things that the human eye can't," Kulula said. "It can take long exposures, gathering light over minutes or hours until incredibly faint and distant objects become visible."

"Holding Due North" captures a weathered juniper tree in Montana's northern Rocky Mountains, surrounded by star trails. At the very center is Polaris, the brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Minor. Jake Moshe/National Maritime Museum

It took photographer Jake Mosher several test shots to make sure that Polaris was in the right position, but things lined up while the moon provided enough light to illuminate the foreground.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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