The David Malin Awards is an astrophotography competition based in Australia celebrating the greatest astronomical photos from the last twelve months. This year's overall winner was a magnificent image from Luke Tscharke showing the Milky Way rising over a lake at night in southern Tasmania.

Australia's most prestigious astrophotography competition is named after British-born David Malin, a world-renowned photographer and astronomer who in the late 20th century developed a series of novel image enhancement techniques that led to the discovery of entirely new types of galaxies. His techniques led to the discovery of a massive spiral gallery that was subsequently named Malin 1.

Malin, now retired, judges the annual Awards himself, and this year the competition received over 260 entries spread across eight categories. The main categories include Deep Sky, Wide Field, Nightcaps and Solar System, which cover the breadth of different astrophotographic techniques from time-lapse images that include landscape elements to stunningly focused snaps of distant galaxies.

The competition allows for a very minor level of manipulation, but the guidelines do stipulate the integrity of the subject must be maintained with a goal of capturing a "true astronomical image." The lead image above, for example, incorporates 38 separate images into one spectacular panorama – the Barrenjoey Milky Way Arch shows the Milky Way gorgeously curving over a lighthouse in New South Wales.

Other winners include a stunning color-saturated close-up of the seas of Serenity and Tranquility on the Moon from Stefan Buda; E lucevan le stelle, from Peter Ward capturing the edge of a molecular cloud; and Old Wagon and Neon Lights, the winner of the themed category asking photographers this year to take an image that conveys "the color of the stars."

The competition has been running for well over a decade but Malin suggests this was one of the hardest years to select a winner to date. "This year it took me by far the longest to judge them because the quality was so high it was difficult to know what to leave out," Malin explained to Australia's ABC News.

Take a look through the gallery for a trip through the year's winners and extensive shortlisted selections.

Source: Parkes CSIRO

View gallery - 32 images