Skill, imagination, vision, and patience; these are essential qualities for an astrophotographer – especially patience. The photographic subgenre combines scientific precision with an artist’s eye, capturing the wonder of the universe in images that are dazzlingly beautiful and deceptively complex. Each year the Central West Astronomical Society hosts the David Malin Awards for Astrophotography in conjunction with the annual AstroFest. The prestigious competition attracts the best astrophotographers from around Australia. There were eight categories this year, each with their own challenges and stunning aesthetics. Solar System and Deep Space invited us onto the surface of the sun, or into distant nebulas, whereas Airglow and Nightscapes produced images that were simultaneously familiar and other worldly; auroras glowed along a horizon, or the sky was illuminated with the twinkling curve of the Milky Way.
Seventeen year-old Baillie Farley was the winner of the Junior category. It took a lot of work to achieve the stunning landscape featuring the emu constellation. “You have to plan the shot – it’s not just the location and accessibility,” he said. “You have to watch the weather, the moon phases, and the position of the Milky Way. You’ll never get a good photo instantly.”
Phil Hart’s Witch’s Head Nebula was the winner of both Deep Sky and the overall winner. The photograph is a result of more than 40 hours of exposure and three months of imaging. Phil said he’s always trying to create something that’s unique in some aspect. “It’s not just recording what you can see, but what the eye can’t see,” Phil said. “You have to anticipate what’s going to be there. That’s where the fascination comes from.”
Along with the very generous prizes from Cannon, the overall winner is presented with a specially crafted statute; a bust of Galileo looking up into the heavens.
By Raen Fraser