The 2013 CWAS AstroFest

"The David Malin Awards"

In July 2013, the Central West Astronomical Society's astrophotography competition was held again as part of the CWAS AstroFest. Amateur astronomers and photographers from around Australia were invited to take part in the exhibition and to submit their astrophotographs for consideration in the prestigious "David Malin Awards".

This year's competition had seven categories and a discretionary Innovation award:

  • Deep Sky
  • Wide-Field
  • Solar System - Hires (< 30')
  • Solar System - Wide-Field (> 30')
  • Animated Sequences
  • Themed Section - "People and Sky"
  • Junior (< 18 yo)
  • and the Innovation Award

The photographs were judged by world-renowned astrophotographer, Dr David Malin, without David being aware of the identity of the photographers. The winners were presented with the "David Malin Awards" in the presence of invited dignitaries, during the CWAS AstroFest conference dinner on 13 July 2013.

It was not just technical skill that was awarded. The prizes went to pictures that captured the beauty of the sky and the intrinsic interest of astronomy in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Canon Australia supported the competition with prizes to the value of over $17,300.

Mr Steve Grove, the News Ltd. Photographic Manager, judged the "Photo Editor's Choice" awards and gave his pick from each category. His overall winner was awarded the Photo Editor's Choice Award.

Last year's exhibitions were a resounding success. The two parallel exhibitions were viewed by over 210,000 people Australia-wide.

This year's permanent exhibition will be on show at the CSIRO Parkes Observatory's Visitor's Centre from 14 July 2013. A second touring exhibition, organised by the Powerhouse Museum, will travel to selected venues, beginning with Sydney Observatory in August 2013.

A record number of entrants submitted their photographs for judging. To have received any one of these awards is a great honour. Congratulations!

The Competition - Category Winners

© Martin Pugh
Winner: Martin Pugh
Deep Sky


Citation: "This is a very fine image of a very interesting galaxy, one of the best I have seen. The subtle colouration of the dust lane and bluish hue of the faint outer structures are excellent. Martin has a very fine setup and it is used here with great skill. The image even contains one of my favourite kinds of galaxies (a nucleated dwarf elliptical)."

Details: Taken with a Planewave 17" CDK F/6.8 telescope and an Apogee U16M CCD 4kx4k camera. Exposures: HaLRGB = 6:15.5:4:4:4 hours for a total of 33.5 hours. Processed with Photoshop CS5 and CCDStack, PixInsight and Maxim DL/CCD.

© Greg Gibbs
Winner: Greg Gibbs


Citation: "This is a great location, and Greg has used a wide lens to capture an impressive panorama, which consists of eight separate exposures. Apart from an interesting foreground, a striking aurora, the Moon, Orion, the Magellanic Clouds, the Milky Way and Southern Cross are all obvious. "

Details: Aurora Australis from Mt Buffalo National Park, Vic. A 180 degree panorama stitched from 8 images. Taken with a Canon 5D MkII, with a 14mm lens at F/2.8 and ISO 3200. 8 x 30 sec. exposures.

© Phil Hart
Winner: Phil Hart
Solar System - Hires

"Solar Eclipse - Progression at Second Contact"

Citation: "This is a beautifully handled series of exposures made as the Moon's disc covers the Sun during an eclipse, where timing is of the essence. Here they have been expertly assembled into an attractive and interesting image that shows the solar prominences and rugged lunar rim."

Details: Taken from the Mulligan Highway, Qld. with a Canon 5D MkII with a Takahashi FS-102 lens with 1.6x extender (1300mm, F/3). Stack of 7 images each 1/1600th sec. and ISO 100.

© Troy Casswell
Winner: Troy Casswell
Solar System - Wide-Field

"Total Coronal Radiance"
  Photo Editor's Pick

Citation: "The enormous brightness range and delicate structure of the solar corona is a difficult subject to capture, especially given its fleeting appearance. Troy's high dynamic range picture is a very good effort that shows more than the eye can see."

Details: An extreme high dynamic range image of the Cairns Total Solar Eclipse in November 2012. A series of images were taken at 1 stop increments from 1/1000th sec. to 1 sec. exposures. Canon EOS 600D with an EF 70-200mm lens at F/2.8.

© Neil Creek
Winner: Neil Creek (with Phil Hart)
Theme - "People and Sky"

"Night Sky Photo Course Group Shot"

Citation: "This is a combined effort of a good idea from one participant well executed by another. The most appropriate word to describe this scene is camaraderie, the bonds of friendship forged (in this case) under the night sky - with a camera. It is also a significantly difficult feat to record a good picture of a dozen faces and the Milky Way in one exposure."

Details: Students from a night sky photography course. Taken with a Canon 5D MkIII with a Sigma 8mm fisheye lens. A 30 second exposure at F/4 and 3200 ISO. Timed to put the Milky Way directly overhead.

© Brooke Beniston
Winner: Brooke Beniston

"The DISH"
  Photo Editor's Pick

Citation: "A striking and well composed night-time image of an Australian astronomical icon under the stars."

Details: The Parkes Radio Telescope. Taken with a Canon 7D. A 30 second exposure with a10 mm lens at F/4 and ISO 2000.

© Alex Cherney and James McHugh
Winners: Alex Cherney and James McHugh
Animated Sequences

"Eclipse on the Beach"

Citation: "At one minute, this is commendably short and beautifully combines images from two different sources very neatly. The beach scene is enhanced by the picturesque clouds and the weird lighting associated with an eclipse. The middle sequence of the diamond ring effect complements the other material perfectly."

Details: Widefield and Solar Corona images by Alex Cherney from Ellis Beach using Nikon D700 DSLR with Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, Nikon D3s with Samyang 35mm f/1.4 lens and Canon 40D with Stellarvue 80mm f/6 telescope. Baily's beads and partial solar eclipse phase images by James McHugh from Mulligan Highway using Canon 5D MkII with 127mm f/7.5 telescope.

© Troy Casswell
Winner: Troy Casswell

"A Song to the Heavens"

Citation: "This is a serious piece of work, well thought through and executed. It is certainly eyecatching and innovative in its use of the author as the subject and his inclusion of an extremely wide angle star trail as the backdrop. Beautiful!"

Details: A full 360 degree panorama taken at Coolum Beach. The foreground was shot with 3 min. exposures at F/2.8 and ISO 1600. The star trails where (9 images+anchor image) x 20x45 sec. at ISO 3200. Canon 5D MkII with a Samyang 14mm F/2.8 lens.

The News Ltd. Photo Editor's Choice

© Julie Fletcher
Winner: Julie Fletcher
Photo Editor's Choice - Judged by Steve Grove

"Milky Way"

Citation: "Everything about this image just makes me want to be there, its visual impact and appeal are spell binding. Great execution of what was obviously a terrific idea."

Details: Taken with a Nikon D800 camera with a 14-24mm Nikon lens. A 30 sec.exposure at f/2.8 and ISO 3200. Six frames shot and stitched using Photoshop. Two torches used to light the trees.

The Competition - Honorable Mentions

Deep Sky

© Martin Pugh

© Ross Giakoumatos

© Greg Bradley
"NGC 6960 - The Witches Broom"
Martin Pugh
"The Dark Doodad in Coonabarabran"
Ross Giakoumatos
"Vela Supernova Remnant"
Greg Bradley

© Steven Mohr

© Rakibul Hasan Syed

© Erik Monteith
"Midnight Blue"
Steven Mohr
"IC 2944"
Rakibul Hasan Syed
"Omega Centauri"
Erik Monteith


© Alex Cherney

© Julie Fletcher
"Early Morning Parade"
Alex Cherney
"Lake Wertherill"
Julie Fletcher

© Neil Creek

© Michael Bolenski

© Grahame Kelaher
"Galaxy Rising"
Neil Creek
"Big Swamp Church Star Trail"
Michael Bolenski
"Milky Way Pinnacles"
Grahame Kelaher

Solar System - Hires

© Stefan Buda

© Paul Haese
"Polar Vista"
Stefan Buda
"Rings and Hexes"
Paul Haese

© Paul Haese

© Paul Haese

© Peter Ward
Paul Haese
"Two Peaks"
Paul Haese
"Solar Cirrus"
Peter Ward

Solar System - Wide-Field

© Alex Cherney

© Julie Fletcher
"Like a Diamond in the Sky"
Alex Cherney
Julie Fletcher

© Kevin Diletti

© Noeleen Lowndes

© Peter Ward
"Annularity Sequence"
Kevin Diletti

"Ring of Light in Outback Australia"
Noeleen Lowndes
"Comet Lemmon"
Peter Ward

Theme - "People and Sky"

© Greg Gibbs

© Peter and Lynette Ward

© Aaron Zajonc
"Beam Me Up"
Greg Gibbs
"Tropical Convergence"
Peter and Lynette Ward
"Looking Up"
Aaron Zajonc


© Lachlan Mabbutt
"Early Morning Risee"
Lachlan Mabbutt
(The great-great-great-great grandson of Henry Parkes)

Animated Sequences

© Phil Hart
"The Yukon's Northern Lights"
Phil Hart

© Alex Cherney
"The Dance of the Dishes"
Alex Cherney

© Troy Casswell
"Eclipse - The Experience"
Troy Casswell

The Presentation Ceremony - 13 July 2013

The winners were presented with the awards by Dr David Malin himself, in the presence of invited dignitaries, during the CWAS AstroFest dinner on July 13, 2013. The dignitaries included the Mayor of Parkes, Cr Ken Keith; Dr Ettore Carretti (CASS); Mr Alan Brightman of Canon Australia; and Paul Clark, President of the CWAS.

The award winners represented entries from across Australia (NSW, Qld, Vic, SA, WA and ACT). Congratulations to them all.

The overall winner of the 2013 CWAS "David Malin Awards" was Martin Pugh of Yass, NSW, for his beautiful image of the galaxy NGC 3718.

The quality of the images was of an incredibly high standard and a testament to the great skill and talent of Australian astrophotographers.

The very finest images will be exhibited in two parallel exhibitions. The first is at the CSIRO Parkes Observatory's Visitors Centre, which officially opened the following day on Sunday, 14 July 2013. This will remain at Parkes for the entire year. The second exhibition is being organised by the Powerhouse Museum and will tour Australia, beginning with Sydney Observatory in August. Last year's exhibitions were a resounding success, with over 210,000 people viewing the exhibitions Australia-wide.

The competition was proudly supported by Canon Australia, who provided prizes to the value of over $17,300. The overall winner received a Canon EOS 5D MkIII DSLR camera with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens (RRP $6,699). The category winners each received a Canon Powershot G15 (RRP $529) and the honourable mentions each received a PowerShot S110 (RRP $429).

The Presentations at the Conference Dinner at the Comfort Inn, The Parkes International Hotel

© John Sarkissiane

© John Sarkissian

The Galileo Trophies and Canon Prizes waiting to be presented.

© John Sarkissian

© John Sarkissian

© John Sarkissian

The Award Winners

© John Sarkissian

All of the 2013 "David Malin Awards" Winners.
(L-R): Rakibul Hasan Syed, Peter Ward, Lynette Ward, Lachlan Mabbutt, Alex Cherney, Brooke Beniston, Steven Mohr, Dr Malin, Martin Pugh, Stefan Buda, Troy Casswell, Noeleen Lowndes, Phil Hart, Ken Creek (for his son Neil), Erik Monteith, Greg Gibbs, Ross Giakoumatos, Kevin Diletti and Aaron Zajonc.
Not Present: Julie Fletcher, Michael Bolenski, Grahame Kelaher, Paul Haese, Greg Bradley and James McHugh.

© John Sarkissian

The category winners with Dr David Malin.
(L-R): Alex Cherney, Brooke Beniston, Dr Malin, Martin Pugh, Troy Casswell, Phil Hart, Greg Gibbs, Ken Creek for his son Neil (not present). Not Present: James McHugh.


© John Sarkissian

© John Sarkissian

Martin with the Galileo Trophies

Canon Australia Prizes

Mr Alan Brightman, representing Canon Australia, presented prizes to the award winners, in recognition by Canon Australia of the excellence that was judged by Dr David Malin in their work.

The Overall Winner, Martin Pugh, received a prize of a Canon EOS 5D MkIII (RRP $6,699).
The category winners each received a Canon Powershot G15 (RRP $529).
The honourable mentions each received a PowerShot S110 (RRP $429).

© John Sarkissian
With Alan Brightman from Canon Australia

Congratulations to all the winners!

Start preparing your astrophotos for the 2014 CWAS "David Malin Awards", and share with the wider public your enthusiasm for the grandeur and beauty of astronomy.

The 2013 CWAS "David Malin Awards" was proudly supported by Canon Australia and

Comments and Enquiries: John Sarkissian of the AstroFest Organising Committee