A selection of shortlisted images from the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015 contest revealing the beauty of our planet, its solar system, the galaxy and the wider universe

Staring into the night sky to ponder life’s imponderables is all the more enjoyable when the views are like these.

From searing hot loops of plasma radiating from the Sun’s edge to people watching rare red aurora in Canada, take a few moments to explore these incredible images of the world above and beyond us.

In total 139 images have been selected as finalists, taken by amateur and professional photographers alike from over 60 countries.

The contest, run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London, UK is now in its seventh year and event organisers say they’ve received more than 2,700 entries – the greatest number for their annual photography competition to date. You can see all of them in their Flickr group.

Winners of the various categories will be announced on 17 September at a special award ceremony at the Royal Observatory. A free of charge exhibition of the winning images will then be displayed at the observatory’s Astronomy Centre from the following day.

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