DIAS calls on local astronomy and photography fans

At DIAS Dunsink Observatory to mark the launch of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) 'Reach for the Stars' astro-photography competition, was DIAS astronomer Dr Eoin Carley. (Picture: Marc O'Sullivan)

Astronomy and photography fans across Ireland have a chance to win a behind-the-scenes tour of one of Europe’s best-known observatories as part of a prize package on offer for a new astrophotography competition.

The ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition is organised by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), and is now open for entries. The competition is seeking the best astro-photographs taken in Ireland over the period 1st January, 2020 to 31st March, 2021. 

Launching the competition, Professor Peter Gallagher, Head of DIAS Astrophysics, said: “We all love looking up at the night sky and admiring how spectacular it can be. With recent advances in cameras and indeed in phone cameras, astrophotography has grown in popularity in recent years.”

“2020 has been a great year for astronomy fans, featuring supermoons, sunspots appearing for the first time in years, and soon, Jupiter and Saturn coming together in the evening sky on the winter solstice.

“People across the country are capturing breath-taking images of such events. With the ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition, we are asking for people to submit their images – we want to see what Ireland’s astro-photographers can offer!”

Professor Gallagher stressed that entrants do not need to be astronomy or photography professionals.

“Anyone with an interest in astronomy and photography – whether as a hobby, a burning passion or a fulltime career – can enter,” he said.

“Our only stipulations are that entrants must be over 18; they must have taken their photograph on the island of Ireland during the time period specified; and – obviously – their photograph must depict something of astronomical interest.”

Prize Package

Entries to the competition will be judged by Professor Gallagher, along with Brenda Fitzsimons, picture editor of The Irish Times; John Flannery, vice-president of the Irish Astronomical Society and Martina Quinn, managing director of Alice PR & Events.

Entrants may submit up to three images to the competition, and the deadline for entries is 5pm on Friday, 2nd April 2021.

The winning entrant will receive a prize package that includes: Publication of their images on the DIAS and Irish Times websites; a VIP tour of DIAS Dunsink Observatory – with the opportunity to peer through Ireland’s largest refractor telescope; a €500 voucher for photographic / telescopic equipment; and a 12-month premium digital subscription to The Irish Times.

DIAS also intends to stage an exhibition of the winning and highly commended images during 2021, if circumstances allow. The competition is being run in partnership with The Irish Times and is sponsored by Alice PR & Events. The Irish Astronomical Society are initiative supporters.

Further information, including the competition guidelines and entry form, is available at https://dias.ie/reachforthestars