The competition is open to scientists, and winning entries are chosen according to 2 key criteria: they should be aesthetically pleasing, and convey an interesting scientific phenomenon.
As well as an overall winner, a category winner and runner up are selected for each category. For the 2018 competition, photographs can be submitted to one of 5 categories:
- Astronomy – for images of astronomical bodies, or that demonstrate astronomical or astrophysical phenomena
- Behaviour – for images that show the behaviour of living species
- Earth Science and Climatology – for images of physical processes or features related to Earth, including its oceans and atmosphere
- Ecology and Environmental Science – for images that demonstrate the interaction of species within the environment and the environment itself
- Micro-imaging – for any images taken using microscopes and other high-magnification imaging devices
The overall winner receives a prize of £500 (or currency equivalent) and winners of the categories not chosen as the overall winner receive £250 (or currency equivalent). The final shortlist selected by the judges will be displayed in an online exhibition.