Photographers and astronomy lovers invited to ‘reach for the stars’

Person with best astrophotographs will win tour of Dunsink Observatory

  Astronomers Dr Eoin Carley and Luis Alberto Cañizares at Dias Dunsink Observatory to mark the launch of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies  ‘Reach for the Stars’ astrophotography competition. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

Astronomers Dr Eoin Carley and Luis Alberto Cañizares at Dias Dunsink Observatory to mark the launch of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies ‘Reach for the Stars’ astrophotography competition. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

 

Astronomy and photography fans have an opportunity to win a tour of one of Europe’s most famous observatories.

The ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition is seeking the best astrophotographs taken in Ireland between January 1st, 2020 and March 31st, 2021, with the first prize winner awarded a VIP tour of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (Dias) Dunsink Observatory.

Prof Peter Gallagher, Head of Astrophysics at Dias, which is organising the contest in partnership with The Irish Times, said recent advances in cameras and phones had led to a growth in astrophotography.

“We all love looking up at the night sky and admiring how spectacular it can be . . . With the ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition we are asking for people to submit their images,” he said.

While 2020 is not a year many will remember fondly, it has been a great year for astronomy fans, Prof Gallagher said. The night sky has featured supermoons, sunspots, and the coming together of Jupiter and Saturn on the winter solstice, he said.

“People across the country are taking breath-taking images of such events,” he added.

Entrants do not need to be professionals, but they must be over the age of 18 and photographs must have been taken from the island of Ireland.

Entries will be judged by Prof Gallagher, along with Irish Times Picture Editor Brenda Fitzsimons; John Flannery, of the Irish Astronomical Society; and Martina Quinn, managing director of Alice PR & Events.

As well as an observatory tour, the winning photographer will see their images published on the Irish Times and Dias websites, and will receive €500 worth of photographic or telescopic equipment and a 12-month Premium Digital subscription to The Irish Times. Winning and highly-commended images will also feature in an exhibition during 2021, so long as circumstances allow.