A NINE-year-old Newcastle Emlyn schoolboy has once again played a starring role in a prestigious international astronomy photography competition.

Last year Casper Kentish, from Ponthirwaun and a pupil at Ysgol y Ddwylan came third in the young section of the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year, which runs in partnership with the Sky at Night magazine.

Casper took a picture of the moon, entitled ‘First Impression’, through a telescope linked to his iPad.

And now the youngster has once again demonstrated his photographic talent after fighting his way on to the shortlist from the thousands of entries and again being highly commended in this year’s competition.

Casper's entry this time around was called "Van Eyck's Moon". It's a reproduction of Jan Van Eyck's moon in the diptych of the Crucifixion and the Last Judgement.

Casper was up with the larks to capture the award-winning picture, tracking the moon across the sky and taking more than 500 images before the moon set.

His photograph was inspired by the judges’ comments during last year's competition when they said his "First Impressions" looked like Galileo’s early drawings of the moon.

One of this year’s judges was Jon Culshaw, comedian, impersonator and regular guest on The Sky at Night, who said of Casper’s picture: “What a delightful idea to take inspiration from astronomical images in classic art and hunt them down in reality.

“The fogging up of the eyepiece was great serendipity as it gives a quality to the image as if van Eyck himself had updated the original.”

For his efforts, Casper won £250 and a one-year subscription to BBC Sky at Night Magazine.

All the top photograph photographs – including Casper’s – are showcased in the Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, which is now open to the public.

This year’s winners and shortlisted entries will also be published in the competition’s official book by Collins, available exclusively at Royal Museums Greenwich shops and online and on sale across all bookstores from November 7, £25.

Tom Kerss, astronomer at the Royal Observatory and judge for the competition, said: “Every year the standard rises, and entrants continue to find creative new ways to express their artistry. This year’s selection contains so many unique approaches to astrophotography – real love letters to the art form, which stay with you long after you’ve seen them.

“I’m looking forward to the discussions these images will inspire about our shared sky, and the ever-expanding field of capturing and interpreting it. With such a beautiful collection to talk about, the competition really has become astrophotography’s ‘World Cup’.”