f  Starmus | Astrophotography Competition

Astrophotography Competition


Once again, the Australian enthusiast Alex Cherney won the unanimous applause of the jury at the festival for the second consecutive time, on this occasion thanks to his evocative collection of time-lapse sequences “Observatories” This competition is one of the driving forces behind the informative approach of the festival, as it is an open initiative that offers a unique chance to attend Starmus, meet all of the leading names in astrophysics and enjoy 60 minutes of observation on the GTC (GRANTECAN or Gran Telescopio Canarias), in La Palma.
As was the case at the previous festival, the skill of Alex Cherney, an amateur astronomer from Australia, led to the expert jury’s decision to declare him the new winner of the competition. At the previous Starmus, Alex Cherney and his beautiful collection of time-lapse sequences of the Milky Way won the prize. This year, it has been thanks to his collection titled “Observatories” that includes some impressive time-lapse images of the stars, the planets and the Milky Way at different observatories around the world (including the GTC in La Palma), which are accompanied by a theme composed especially for this animation by Dermot Tutty.

The Observatories from Alex Cherney on Vimeo.

We are very pleased to announce an astrophotography competition open to everyone who enjoys capturing the elusive beauty of the night sky — and is good at it. What ‘good’ means is inevitably subjective, but it includes aesthetic merit, technical quality and originality, and these are the criteria that the three judges will be looking for. te10te69 The judging panel will consist of David Eicher (USA), Editor, Astronomy Magazine, Rogelio Bernal Andreo (USA), world-renowned astrophotographer well known for his images of deep sky objects, and Damian Peach (UK) former Astronomy photographer of the year. The competition is one of many events associated with the STARMUS Festival that will take place in the Canary Islands between 22 and 27 of September, 2014, and the overall winner will enjoy an all expenses paid trip to the Festival and a life-time opportunity to carry out a 60 min observation of the object of his/her choice with the largest optical telescope in the world: the GTC (GRANTECAN or Gran Telescopio Canarias) located on the island of La Palma. We will also award attractive prizes to the best entrant in three other categories. The cash equivalent of the winning prize will be $2000. GTC Up to five entries can be accepted in each of four categories, up to a maximum of 10 images, which can be monochrome or colour:
  1. Wide field images, including star trails, twilights, TWAN-style pictures, tracked or untracked, but taken using off-the-shelf consumer cameras.
  2. Solar system objects, which would include solar, lunar, planetary, cometary ,etc., photography using any technique or equipment, including webcams.
  3. Deep sky pictures made with telescopes. This category can include galaxies, nebulae, star cluster and star fields, anything beyond the solar system.
  4. Animations, by which we mean movies of any sort, provided the main ingredient is real astronomical image content.
Full details of the competition rules and how to enter and submit images are provided in the Competition rules and Conditions

Click here to view Competition Rules and Conditions

Submission Procedure

You should register with Flickr, Picasa or Dropboxdata sharing engines, upload your images and inform us by email: info@starmus.com. The metadata and/or caption text files should also be emailed to info@starmus.com. All entries must be submitted by July 1st, 2014.


Submission is open to everyone, except those involved in the running of the Competition itself and the organizers of the STARMUS event. Images from professional astronomers or made with data obtained with professional astronomical facilities are not allowed. People aged under 18 are able to participate with their parent’s/guardian’s written consent.

Categories and number of entries

Up to 10 entries can be submitted, divided as you wish among four categories, but with a limit of five entries in any one category. The categories are:
  • a) Wide field, by which we mean star trails, twilights TWAN-style pictures. (This category is important because it encourages people with off-the-shelf cameras to appreciate the night sky.)
  • b) Solar system, which would include solar, lunar, planetary, cometary, etc., photography using any technique, including webcams.
  • c) Deep sky (by which we mean pictures made with telescopes). This category can include galaxies, nebulae, star cluster and star fields, anything beyond the solar system.
  • d) Animations, by which we mean movies of any sort, provided they have real astronomical image content. We have in mind time-lapse sequences running for a few minutes, with or without music.

Judging criteria

The judging criteria will be based on:
  • a) Aesthetic merit—the image must be striking, intriguing, attractive, appropriately cropped and presented.
  • b) Technical quality—no sign of technical problems such as digital processing artefacts, trailed stars and the like. We expect digital processing, but do not expect to notice it.
  • c) Originality—a fresh, unusual or innovative approach.
The deliberations of the judges are necessarily subjective. They remain confidential and their decisions are final. No correspondence will be entered into.

General conditions

The competition will be completely digital, and the judges will be using calibrated monitors to assess them. Images will be submitted as digital files, between 1200 and 2000 pix on the longest side, ideally as .JPG files. HD or other movies can also be submitted, in any of the widely readable formats. There should be no identification on the image itself (see below for copyright). Each image or group of images must be accompanied by a separate file with brief caption information, including: 1. Your name and contact details (including e-mail) 2. Category of entry / file name 3. Object or field name, or image title. 4. Telescope or device used to create the image 5. Aggregate (total) exposure time 6. Agreement to the conditions 7. Brief credit line to appear with your pictures If several images are submitted this information can be in one text file. The mode of transmission can be any of the suggestions below.


The competition organizers will respect the author’s copyright in the images submitted. The images you provide will not be copied or distributed in any form, except as necessary for the STARMUS event, the exhibition and their associated publicity. If images are used on the web in this connection, they will be used at low res and with burned-in or adjacent credit lines. All the accepted images will be shown on high resolution displays during the STARMUS meeting, and the organizers will endeavour to include the author’s details on-screen with the image(s). Requests for other uses of the images will be forwarded to their respective authors. We expect that the winner will receive wide publicity, and it is a condition of entry that the winning entries can be distributed to the media in this connection. Any press or media release will emphasize that the images are copyright, and that they are supplied for media use in the context of the STARMUS event only.

The Judges


David Eicher

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David J. Eicher is editor in chief of Astronomy magazine, the world’s largest publication on the subject. He is president of the Astronomy Foundation, the telescope industry’s first-ever trade association. He is author of 17 books on science and history, and at age 15 he founded a magazine on observing galaxies, clusters, and nebulae, Deep Sky Monthly. An avid observer of astronomical objects for more than 35 years, he was honored in 1990 by the International Astronomical Union with the naming of minor planet 3617 Eicher. He is an accomplished rock and blues drummer, playing with the Astronomy Blues Band.

Rogelio Bernal Andreo

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Rogelio is a Spanish-American astrophotographer. Considered by many to be one of the very best and most influential astrophotographers in the world today, Rogelio has received numerous international awards and prestigious accolades. His work has been published in many international publications, showcased in museums, appeared in television networks such as the BBC, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel or the 2014 remake of Carl Sagan’s series Cosmos, and even appeared in high-selling motion pictures such as IMAX Hubble 3D. His images have also been selected 30 times for NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day at the time of this writing.

Damian Peach

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Damian Peach from West Sussex in the UK has spent the last 14 years documenting the changing face of the solar system. Spending a modest £10,000 on a high speed telescope and electrical equipment Damian’s crystal clear images are good enough to rival those of NASA and the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Damian was Astronomy photographer of the year in 2011.

Previous Competition Winner

Alex Cherney’s winning entry “Ocean Sky” from Starmus 2011
Winning the major astro-photography prize at the inaugural STARMUS festival was the opportunity of a lifetime for Australian amateur astronomer Alex Cherney. It was not only a chance to rub shoulders with some of the world’s most famous space explorers, but earned him a dream date with winnerthe largest optical telescope on the planet – 10.4 metre Gran Telescopio Canarias (GranTeCan), in Spain’s Canary Islands. STARMUS was held in June 2011 in the Canary Islands and is the first popular festival linking the disciplines of astronomy and the space sciences. Mr Cherney’s winning photographs earned him a trip to the festival and one hour using the GranTeCan telescope at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma. To win the prize, Mr Cherney beat global entrants with his beautiful collection of time-lapse sequences of the Milky Way, seen over the Southern Ocean. He used an ordinary digital SLR camera, producing a compilation of images taken over 31 hours of exposure time. Judges said Mr Cherney’s scenes were “chosen with the eye of an artist”, adding that the “subtle panning and excellent control of colour and contrast revealed technical skills of the highest order” It is the first time an amateur astronomer has been allowed access to the world’s largest telescope and Mr Cherney was keen to make the most of the opportunity. Garik Israelian, the director and founder of STARMUS Festival says, “The Astrophotography competition is a very important component of the STARMUS festival. We need new mechanisms and tools to create and inspire a young generation of amateur astronomers. This is the principal goal of STARMUS.” After much deliberation, Mr Cherney decided to use his hour to observe and photograph Arp84, a pair of interacting galaxies (NGC5394 and NGC5395). “I wanted an object that would look nice given the parameters of the telescope (Field of View) and has not been photographed in colour and great detail by a professional telescope,” he said.