I've spoken in the past of my star rating system, and the first three fifths of it is sound. (Apply 1 star to raw images that merit further review or comparison. 2 stars for obvious further editing. 3 stars for actual edits. Some of the 1 stars fall by the wayside.)
Now things get trickier. 5 stars make me go wow, and are my very best work. It's the 4 star ones that are tricky. Still working on the gradually evolving criteria for 4 or 5 stars. My general thought is to keep it grounded in skills, and not get sidetracked into unique shots where I got lucky, though I wouldn't exclude a shot for that. I am available for much further discussion about evaluating photos, but it has to be over beer, wine, or coffee.
Second Runner up.
This is one I dithered about for a while. Maybe it should be 5 stars, and perhaps if that green foreground had something more interesting in it, I'd have done that. (Wait, is that a lurking polar bear?!) Some of you may recall a similar photo as my first image of the month. There is a similar panorama of this that will show up soon.
First Runner up
Dithered here too. The second runner up was originally a curled up rose bud.
And the winner!
Red Rock Coulee, way off to the left from the parking area, over hill and dale and gully, past the many prickly pear cactus being careful not to step on them or the wild flowers, then up a knoll, and the view is wow! I waited for some more clouds to get some shadow action happening, but no deal. The experience was easily 5 stars, but somehow the photograph isn't quite there but I'm still really pleased.