A Rare Glimpse of Comet Leonard’s Last Moments Wins the

Gerald Rhemann’s breathtaking capture of Comet Leonard’s stunning “Disconnection Event” not only mesmerized audiences worldwide but also secured him the prestigious top prize in the esteemed Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, hosted by the Royal Observatory Greenwich. The event, featuring over 3,000 entries from 67 countries, showcased a diverse array of celestial wonders, including Alexander Stepanenko’s ethereal “Winged Aurora” and Mihail Minkov’s striking “Back to the Spaceship,” among other awe-inspiring images. Andrew McCarthy’s spellbinding photograph of the International Space Station transiting the historic Apollo 11 moon-landing site further contributed to the enchanting visual narrative. As these extraordinary snapshots continue to grace the National Maritime Museum in London until August 13, 2023, the competition’s collection serves as a profound testament to the enduring allure and wonder of the cosmos, reaffirming the profound impact of celestial photography in capturing the boundless majesty of the universe.

The brilliant Comet Leonard put on a mesmerizing performance late last year when it streaked across the sky on Christmas Day. Expelled from the solar system shortly after, the celestial matter captivated photographers around the world during its brief stint of visibility, including Gerald Rhemann who captured the illuminated body as its gas tail disconnected from its nucleus and was swept away by solar wind. The incredibly rare and brief event also garnered Rhemann the top prize in this year’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest.

Hosted by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the 14th-annual competition received more than 3,000 entries from 67 countries. This year’s collection includes a glowing, avian-like aurora over Murmansk Oblast and the International Space Station as it flies over the Apollo 11 moon-landing site—the latter was taken by Andrew McCarthy, whose galactic photos have been featured multiple times on Colossal.

Explore all of the winning images on the contest’s site, and if you’re in London, stop by the National Maritime Museum to see the photos in person through August 13, 2023.

“Winged Aurora” © Alexander Stepanenko, Murmansk, Murmansk Oblast, Russia, January 15, 2022

“Stabbing Into the Stars” © Zihui Hu, Nyingchi, Tibet, China, December 24, 2021

“Back to the Spaceship” © Mihail Minkov, Buzludzha, Balkan Mountains, Stara Zagora Province, Bulgaria, August 12, 2021

“The Night Highway” © Filip Hrebenda, Stokksnes Peninsula, Iceland, April 11, 2021

“Moon: Big Mosaic” © Andrea Vanoni, Porto Mantovano, Lombardy, Italy, January 19, 2021

“The International Space Station Transiting Tranquility Base” © Andrew McCarthy, Florence, Arizona, USA, January 19, 2022

“In the Embrace of a Green Lady” © Filip Hrebenda, Hvalnes, Iceland, April 10, 2021


The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, with its awe-inspiring showcase of celestial wonders captured through the lens of talented photographers worldwide, stands as a remarkable testament to humanity’s enduring fascination with the mysteries of the cosmos. Gerald Rhemann’s remarkable depiction of Comet Leonard’s evanescent “Disconnection Event” not only secured him the competition’s prestigious top prize but also highlighted the captivating transience of celestial phenomena. As the exhibition continues to grace the halls of the National Maritime Museum in London, the compelling images, including the otherworldly “Winged Aurora” by Alexander Stepanenko and the captivating “Back to the Spaceship” by Mihail Minkov, offer viewers a profound glimpse into the breathtaking beauty and infinite grandeur of the universe. Andrew McCarthy’s spellbinding portrayal of the International Space Station traversing the historic Apollo 11 moon-landing site further reinforces the enduring impact of celestial photography, serving as a powerful reminder of the profound connection between humanity and the celestial realm.