Stunning shots of galaxies and 'alien-like' rings in the sky are among winners of the 2020 Photo Nightscape Awards

THE jaw-dropping winners of a photography contest centred around the night sky have been revealed.

Strange alien-like circles above Germany and a stunning snap of the Northern Lights over Iceland are among the highly commended photos for the 2020 Photo Nightscape Awards.

Astrophotographer Sergio Montúfar scooped the top prize for his incredible snap, Surfing the Milky Way.

His prize-winning picture shows surfers clutching their boards while walking into the sea, beneath a star-speckled sky.

Sergio won the coveted Nightscape prize at the awards, which are held by French non-profit Chasseurs De Nuit.

He took the photo in his native Guatemala.

Sergio said: “Humbly, I am very happy to put the name of Guatemala in heaven at one of the toughest times for everyone.”

Runner-up was Mario Konang’s A North Path Germany, which dazzles by capturing a pattern in the sky that looks like a multicoloured fingerprint.

Nayana Rajesh won the Junior Category prize for her images from – Troglo Night, Shark Fin Cove in Davenport, California, USA.

She also snapped a night scene over a quaint church in Texas.

Remi Leblanc Messager won first prize in the Town category for his stunning image of a starry sky above Paris.

Stefan Liebermann was praised for three gorgeous photos, including one snap of a barren tree in the desert against a backdrop of a mountain and starry night sky.

Elsewhere, stepping stones shimmer on the surface of the water in Bill Graig’s aptly named Luminosity Lake Tahoe, taken in California, US.

Other vistas include a pink sky above Dubai in Apostolos Kyraizis’s Star Show, and Miguel Claro’s “unusual” photo of the Northern Lights in Denmark.

What's the difference between an asteroid, meteor and comet?

  • Asteroid: An asteroid is a small rocky body that orbits the Sun. Most are found in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter) but they can be found anywhere (including in a path that can impact Earth)
  • Meteoroid: When two asteroids hit each other, the small chunks that break off are called meteoroids
  • Meteor: If a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere, it begins to vapourise and then becomes a meteor. On Earth, it'll look like a streak of light in the sky, because the rock is burning up
  • Meteorite: If a meteoroid doesn't vapourise completely and survives the trip through Earth's atmosphere, it can land on the Earth. At that point, it becomes a meteorite
  • Comet: Like asteroids, a comet orbits the Sun. However rather than being made mostly of rock, a comet contains lots of ice and gas, which can result in amazing tails forming behind them (thanks to the ice and dust vapourising)

In other news, Nasa earlier today released the closest photos ever taken of the Sun.

Nasa recently revealed the "space home" where the first ISS tourists will enjoy panoramic views of Earth.

The water that once flowed on Mars contained just the right ingredients to support life, scientists say.

Which photo is your favourite? Let us know in the comments!

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