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From star-studded mountain landscapes to the Northern Lights, photographers have captured the night sky in all its awe-inspiring beauty to win an international competition.

First prize went to South African photographer Eric Nathan, who showed star trails above Table Mountain in the moonlight.

The sixth annual International Sky Photo Contest, organised by The World at Night, aimed to raise awareness about light pollution and ‘reclaim the natural beauty of starry sky’.

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It was selected by a panel of judges including James Richardson, a photographer for National Geographic.

Commenting on the winning entry, he said: ‘The play of light patterns here, with the circling stars set against the urban labyrinths, makes this image a delight to explore, while at the same time showing the power of city lights to dominate the natural world.’

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Unusual: This image by Zhou Yannan, called 'Blood moon rises over Chongqing' shows the intriguing astronomical phenomena. As the moon rose and the sun set on October 8 last year, a lunar eclipse was seen over the Chinese city. This photo sequence shows the rising eclipsed moon as a dark, reddened disk coming out of the shadow while rising over the Yangtze River

 

Unusual: This image by Zhou Yannan, called ‘Blood moon rises over Chongqing’ shows the intriguing astronomical phenomena. As the moon rose and the sun set on October 8 last year, a lunar eclipse was seen over the Chinese city. This photo sequence shows the rising eclipsed moon as a dark, reddened disk coming out of the shadow while rising over the Yangtze River

It was selected by a panel of judges including James Richardson, a photographer for National Geographic.

Commenting on the winning entry, he said: ‘The play of light patterns here, with the circling stars set against the urban labyrinths, makes this image a delight to explore, while at the same time showing the power of city lights to dominate the natural world.’

Intoxicating: Caren Zhao of China, took this stunning image called 'Strolls in the star river' in February 2015 from Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat located in Bolivia. The arc of the southern Milky Way and the zodiacal light appears in this panoramic view. The photographer said: 'There was no escape from this breath-taking intoxication'

Intoxicating: Caren Zhao of China, took this stunning image called ‘Strolls in the star river’ in February 2015 from Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat located in Bolivia. The arc of the southern Milky Way and the zodiacal light appears in this panoramic view. The photographer said: ‘There was no escape from this breath-taking intoxication’

Aurora-some! Sigurdur William Brynjarsson of Iceland captured an enchanting aurora display in a 180-degree panoramic view from near Reykjavik, for his image 'The dome'. Judge David Malin said: 'The snow-covered Icelandic lava-field is dominated by an unusually symmetrical auroral arch, which appears to emerge from the lights of two towns. Beneath it are the stars of Orion and the Pleiades'

Aurora-some! Sigurdur William Brynjarsson of Iceland captured an enchanting aurora display in a 180-degree panoramic view from near Reykjavik, for his image ‘The dome’. Judge David Malin said: ‘The snow-covered Icelandic lava-field is dominated by an unusually symmetrical auroral arch, which appears to emerge from the lights of two towns. Beneath it are the stars of Orion and the Pleiades’

 

Magical: Ben Coffan captured the Milky Way and crescent moon on a crystal clear winter morning at Crater Lake in Oregon. Judge James Richardson said: ‘From the sweeping snowbanks in the foreground to the volcanic crater sulking in the shadows to the grand sweep of the Milky Way across the sky this image suggests monumental forces that whisper their power’

‘The snow itself sparkles in the light of the moon and Lyubov has pointed her camera so the trees appear to reach for the sky.’

Brad Goldpaint of the US won second place for his photo ‘Moonlit Darklings’ showing the Milky Way above Mount Rainer in Washington.

Mr Richardson said: ‘Here is the dark brooding night, the mysterious valley leading towards the towering mountain and the infinitely distant Milky Way, all part of one continuous landscape.

‘This is a subtly crafted composition that invites reflection as much as it does awe.’

A photo titled ‘Above the light pollution’ taken near Mount Elbrus in Russia Evgeny Trisko, won second place in another category.

Eerily beautiful: Brad Goldpaint of the US won second place for his photo ‘Moonlit Darklings’ (pictured) showing the Milky Way above Mount Rainer in Washington. Mr Richardson said: ‘Here is the dark brooding night, the mysterious valley leading towards the towering mountain and the infinitely distant Milky Way, all part of one continuous landscape

Eerily beautiful: Brad Goldpaint of the US won second place for his photo ‘Moonlit Darklings’ (pictured) showing the Milky Way above Mount Rainer in Washington. Mr Richardson said: ‘Here is the dark brooding night, the mysterious valley leading towards the towering mountain and the infinitely distant Milky Way, all part of one continuous landscape

Powerful: 'Star Trails over Bromo' (pictured) by Hui Chieh Teoh of Malaysia is a time-exposure image of star trails around the south celestial pole, above volcanoes in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park of East Java, Indonesia. Lit by the rising Moon, Mount Bromo is the steaming crater in the centre

Powerful: ‘Star Trails over Bromo’ (pictured) by Hui Chieh Teoh of Malaysia is a time-exposure image of star trails around the south celestial pole, above volcanoes in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park of East Java, Indonesia. Lit by the rising Moon, Mount Bromo is the steaming crater in the centre

Mr Malin said: ‘High in the remote northern Caucasus, the dome of the Pik Terskol Observatory appears about to be overwhelmed by the dramatic forces of nature, in this astonishing image.

‘Angry clouds advancing over the mountains are lit by streetlights in the valleys, while overhead the Milky Way rises majestically over the turmoil below.’

Other winning images include shots of the Milky Way over a lake in Oregon, an aurora display captured near Reykjavik in Iceland and a galactic arc over the world’s largest salt flat in Bolivia.

The competition was open to both amateur and professional photographers of any age and the next completion will be announced in March.

Mr Malin said: ‘This competition encourages photographers with imagination to push their cameras to their technical limits, and to produce eye-catching images that appear perfectly natural and are aesthetically pleasing.’

Tranquil: Evgeny Trisko's photograph, 'Above and underneath,' shows the night sky above clouds illuminated by towns and villages hidden beneath. The image was taken in Pyatigorsk, in the Stavropol region of Russia

Tranquil: Evgeny Trisko’s photograph, ‘Above and underneath,’ shows the night sky above clouds illuminated by towns and villages hidden beneath. The image was taken in Pyatigorsk, in the Stavropol region of Russia