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DIAS Astrophotography competition goes mobile for 2024

‘Reach for the Stars’, the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies’ (DIAS) astrophotography competition, has returned for the fourth year running and is calling on Ireland’s budding astro-photographers to submit their images.

This year the competition has added a new category, the ‘Night Sky in Your Hand’, a mobile phone category to encourage more people to get involved.

The competition, which opened for entries today (10.04.24), is seeking the best astro-photographs taken in Ireland over the period 28th April 2023 to 10th May 2024. It is calling for submissions under five distinct categories:

  1. Night Sky in Your Hand: Images taken with only a smartphone, and without telescopes, of an astronomical scene.
  2. Out of this World – Planetary: Images of the planets, sun and moon.
  3. Out of this World – Deep Sky: Images of celestial objects that exist outside our solar system such as nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies.
  4. Back on Earth – Landscape: Images that depict a feature of astronomical interest as a prominent feature and elements such as nature, land or water.
  5. Back on Earth – Landmark: Images that depict a feature of astronomical interest as a prominent feature and elements such as cityscapes, buildings, houses, historical structures or monuments.

Launching the competition today, Dr. Eucharia Meehan, CEO and Registrar of DIAS, said: “DIAS is delighted to launch the ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition for 2024. We are always trying to improve and grow the competition and have made a number of updates this year that we hope will bring the competition to a new level. We now have an additional category inviting entries taken on smartphones. Cameras on phones can now take such high-quality photos that we felt it would be a great opportunity to encourage more people to get involved.

“We’re also delighted that the Astronomical Observatories of Ireland (AOI) has come on board this year and is sponsoring a prize for our competition winners. The AOI is a strategic partnership between us at DIAS, Armagh Observatory & Planetarium and Birr Castle Heritage Foundation to protect the astronomical heritage, and promote astronomical research and knowledge across the island of Ireland, so it is fitting for the Observatories to support the competition.

“Reach for the Stars is open to everyone – whether you are a seasoned professional or amateur with a love for astronomy. All we ask is that you follow the competition guidelines carefully when making the submission to ensure your images are eligible.”

Also commenting, Professor Peter Gallagher, Head of Astronomy and Astrophysics at DIAS and member of the judging panel, said: “With the addition of the new mobile phone category this year, I’m excited to see the range of entries we’ll get. This new element really opens the door for lots of amateur and budding astro-photographers who might not necessarily have the equipment but have an eye for a good shot to showcase their work.

“There are lots of astronomical events coming up in April alone – we’ve just had a solar eclipse, Lyrid’s meteor shower will take place later this month, along with a full moon before the closing date of the competition – so there are plenty of opportunities for people to get out there and capture some shots.

“The night sky can be enjoyed by everyone – we’ve had everything from glittering galaxies to incredible skyscapes entered over the past three years, and we’re looking forward to seeing what this year’s submissions have in store!”

Competition Details

Entrants may submit up to two images per category to the competition. The deadline for entries is 5pm on Friday, 10th May 2024.

All entries to the competition will be screened by a shortlisting panel to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria. The shortlisted images in each category will then go forward for consideration by the judging panel and for an online public vote.

Entries to the ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition will be judged by Brenda Fitzsimons, Picture Editor, The Irish Times; Michael McCreary, President, Irish Astronomical Society; Peter Gallagher, Senior Professor and Head of Astronomy and Astrophysics at DIAS and Niamh Breathnach, Senior Director, Alice Public Relations.

Prize Package

The winning photographers in the ‘Out of this World’ and ‘Back on Earth’ categories, as selected by the judging panel, will receive a prize package that includes:

The winner of the Public Choice category, as voted for by the public, and the winner of the ‘Night Sky in Your Hand’ category will receive a voucher to the value of €250 for photographic / telescopic equipment, along with passes to the three sites of the Astronomical Observatories of Ireland – Dunsink Observatory (Race to Space Escape Room), Armagh Observatory and Birr Castle Demesne.

It is DIAS’s intention that the winning and highly commended images will also be included in an exhibition at DIAS during 2024.  Furthermore, all shortlisted images will be included in an online exhibition – for the purposes of the public vote – on the competition website reachforthestars.ie.

DIAS’s ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition is being run in partnership with The Irish Times, and is sponsored by Alice Public Relations and The Astronomical Observatories of Ireland. The Irish Astronomical Society are initiative supporters.

Further information, including the competition guidelines and entry form, is available at www.reachforthestars.ie.