The 2017 CWAS AstroFest

"The David Malin Awards"

In July 2017, 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 eight categories:

  • Deep Sky
  • Wide-Field
  • Nightscapes
  • Solar System
  • Animated Sequences:
    • Scientific
    • Aesthetic
  • Themed Section - "Airglow"
  • Junior (18 years old and younger)

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 15 July 2017. The dignitaries included Peter Robertson, Dr Yuri Beletsky, Christopher Go, Cr Barbara Newton (Deputy Mayor of Parkes Council), Jensen Baptista (Head of Social Media, Canon Australia), Dr Fred Watson and Marnie Ogg (Sydney Observatory).

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 Estore Voucher prizes to the value of $10,000.

Mr Jeff Darmanin, a News Corp. Picture Editor, 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 191,000 people Australia-wide.

This year's permanent exhibition will be on show at the CSIRO Parkes Observatory's Visitor's Centre for one year from 16 July 2017. A second touring exhibition, organised by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, will travel to selected venues, beginning with Sydney Observatory on 10 August 2017.

To have received any one of these awards is a great honour. Congratulations!

Click on the images to see the larger versions

The Competition - Category Winners

© Phil Hart
Winner: Phil Hart
Deep Sky

OVERALL WINNER "Witch's Head Nebula"

Citation: "One of the nearest dust clouds, IC 2118, or Witch Head Nebula, is a faint and detailed reflection nebula, set in a rich field of stars. In this orientation, it has an evocative shape, like an open hand. This is one of the best images I have seen of this object and does full justice to its delicate structure and colour, with pin-sharp stars all around."

© Peter Ward
Winner: Peter Ward
Solar System

"Solar Storm"

Citation: "Images like this could only be made with professional telescopes not so long ago. Now, with patience, persistence and some elaborate processing they can be made from your backyard. This is a fine example, revealing astonishing detail and texture in the surface of the Sun."

© Eddie Trimarchi
Winner: Eddie Trimarchi

"Surfer's Paradise and Perigee Moon"

Citation: "Natural-looking night-time scenes with a wide range of lighting conditions are notoriously difficult to shoot, especially into the light. This one succeeds brilliantly, capturing subtle detail in the clouds and shadows, and retaining it in the water reflections, all in a well-composed scene."

© Troy Casswell
Winner: Troy Casswell

"Milky Way Rift"

Citation: "The red of hydrogen-alpha is enhanced in this fine, highly detailed, wide-angle mosaic image of the brightest part of Milky Way. The colours of the stars of the Galaxy's bulge and its masking dust are beautifully rendered, as is the intriguing multi-coloured nebulosity around Rho Ophiuchus and Antares, with Mars and Saturn in attendance."

© James Garlick
Winner: James Garlick
Theme - "Airglow"

"Red Airglow Over Calverts"

Citation: "Airglow is ever-present in the night sky, but too faint to be seen in colour. Sometimed it is structured as here, but is not often such an undiluted red. Its faintness and angluar extent make it a challenge for modern digital cameres, and this superb example is compiled from 20, 20-second exposures, seamlessly combined."

© Baillie Farley
Winner: Baillie Farley
& Photo Editor's Pick

"Emu in the Sky"

Citation: "This is an accomplished image of the southern Milky Way, that combines eight, 13-second exposures from a camera with a relatively small sensor. The colour balance and dynamic range are expertly rendered, and the scene is enhanced by a well placed tree."

© Paul Haese
Winner: Paul Haese
Animated Sequences - Aesthetic


Citation: "The air-glow and glimpses of the Aurora Australis enhance this artfully assembled short time-lapse sequence, which emphasises the rising of the Milky Way. Carefully selected foregrounds and a cameo appearance from the zodiacal light add to the visual interest."

© Phil Hart
Winner: Phil Hart
Animated Sequences - Scientific

"Meteor Train"

Citation: "Long-lasting trails from meteors are rare, and this one persisted for almost an hour. Patience is needed to record a time-lapse sequence of something that is soon too faint to see. The scene is enhanced by the passage of clouds, both terrestrial and Magellanic, and the enduring trail itself reveals much about high altitude winds."

The Photo Editor's Choice

© Luke Tscharke
Winner: Luke Tscharke
Photo Editor's Choice - judged by Jeff Darmanin

"Superman Skies"

Citation: "This image has a beautiful composition and exposure. A wonderful mix of man-made beauty and nature at its best. The falling stars added another extra element."

Click on the images to see the larger versions

The Competition - Honorable Mentions

Deep Sky

© Martin Pugh

© Steve Crouch
"NGC 6188 - Two Panel Mosaic"
Martin Pugh
"Omega Centauri"
Steve Crouch

© Tim Carruthers

© Andrew Campbell
"Metallic Rose"
Tim Carruthers
"Sagittarius Sunflowers"
Andrew Campbell
Photo Editor's Pick


© Peter Patonai

© Peter Patonai

© Luke Tscharke
"Rho Ophiuchi Outshines Comet Clark"
Peter Patonai
"Kitty Loves Seafood"
Peter Patonai
"Time to Shine"
Luke Tscharke
Photo Editor's Pick


© Stephen Mudge

© Judith Conning

© Anne Algar
"Munduberra Milky Way and Airglow""
Stephen Mudge
"Arctic Moonrise"
Judith Conning
"Abandoned House"
Anne Algar

Solar System

© Peter Ward

© Stefan Buda
"Variable Star"
Peter Ward
"The Mists of Mars"
Stefan Buda

© Stefan Buda

© Paul Sartory
"Lunar Detail"
Stefan Buda
"Solar Active Region AR2488 in Halpha"
Paul Sartory

© Paul Haese

© Martin Pugh
"Wide Open, Saturn Nearing Opposition"
Paul Haese
"Colours of the Moon"
Martin Pugh
Photo Editor's Pick

Theme - "Airglow"

© Ben Swanson

© Alex Cherney
"Night Glow"
Ben Swanson
& Photo Editor's Pick
"Red and Green"
Alex Cherney

© Grahame Kelaher
"Airglow of Mount Magnet"
Grahame Kelaher
& Picture Framer's Pick


© Baillie Farley
Baillie Farley

Animated Sequences: Scientific

(Click on the image to view the video)

© Alex Cherney & Greg Walton
"Persistent Meteor Trains"
Alex Cherney & Greg Walton

Animated Sequences: Aesthetic

(Click on the image to view the video)

© Ian Stewart
"Aurora Australis over Betsey Island, Tasmanis"
Ian Stewart

The Presentation Ceremony - 15 July 2017

© John Sarkissian

The guests speakers and dignitaries at the 2017 CWAS AstroFest. (L-R): Cr Barbara Newton (Parkes Shire Deputy Mayor), Dr Brad Tucker, Dr Yuri Beletsky, Christopher Go, Christine Speers (CWAS President), Dr David Malin, Cr Ken Keith (Parkes Shire Mayor), Peter Robertson (Keynote Speaker), Nelson Hadinata (Canon Australia), Cr Bill Jayet, Jensen Baptista (Head of Social Media at Canon Australia).

The winners were presented with the awards by Dr David Malin himself, in the presence of invited dignitaries, during the CWAS AstroFest dinner on 15 July 2017. The dignitaries included the Deputy Mayor of Parkes, Cr Barbara Newton; Peter Robertson; Jensen Baptista of Canon Australia; Dr Yuri Beletsky, Christopher Go, Marnie Ogg (Sydney Observatory), Dr Fred Watson and Christine Speers, President of the CWAS.

The award winners represented entries from every State and Territory of Australia (NSW, Qld, Vic, SA, WA, Tas and ACT). Congratulations to them all.

The overall winner of the 2017 CWAS "David Malin Awards" was Phil Hart of Mount Glasgow, Victoria, for his beautiful image of the dust clouds of IC 2118, "Witch's Head Nebula".

The quality of the images was 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, and was officially opened the following day on Sunday, 16 July 2017. This will remain at Parkes for the entire year. The second exhibition is being organised by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences and will tour Australia, beginning with Sydney Observatory on Thursday, 10 August 2017. Last year's exhibitions were a resounding success, with over 191,000 people viewing the exhibitions Australia-wide.

Canon Australia supported the 2017 competition with Estore voucher prizes valued at $10,000. In addition, the exhibition prints were produced using a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer at SUNSTUDIOS.

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

The welcoming remarks were made by CWAS President, Christine Speers. John Sarkissian then introduced Dr David Malin to make his presentations.

The Award Winners

© John Sarkissian

All of the 2017 "David Malin Awards" Winners.
(L-R): Peter Ward, Troy Casswell, Eddie Trimarchi, Luke Tscharke, Stephen Mudge, Phil Hart, Peter Patonai, Dr David Malin, Tim Carruthers, Martin Pugh, Alex Cherney, Stefan Buda, Steve Crouch, Baillie Farley, Anne Algar

Not Present: Paul Haese, James Garlick, Paul Sartory, Ben Swanson, Grahame Kelaher, Judith Conning, Ian Stewart and Greg Walton

© John Sarkissian

The category winners with Dr David Malin.
(L-R): Eddie Trimarchi, Troy Casswell, Phil Hart, Dr David Malin, Baillie Farley, Peter Ward, Luke Tscharke.

Not Present: Paul Haese and James Garlick.


© Denis Crute

© Denis Crute

Canon Australia Prizes

Mr Jensen Baptista, Head of Social Media for Canon Australia, presented Estore voucher prizes to Phil and all the award winners, in recognition by Canon Australia of the excellence that was judged by Dr David Malin in their work.

© Denis Crute

Astronomy 2018 Calendar by Astrovisuals

The Astronomy 2018 Calendar features the winners of the 2018 CWAS "David Malin Awards". Order here.

The "2018 Australasian Sky Guide" Cover

To commemorate the Sydney Observatory's 160th anniversary next year, Marnie Ogg announced that the cover of the "2018 Australasian Sky Guide" will feature the Solar System winning image, "Solar Storm", by Peter Ward.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Start preparing your astrophotos for the 2018 CWAS "David Malin Awards", and share with the wider public your enthusiasm for the grandeur and beauty of astronomy.

The 2017 CWAS "David Malin Awards" was proudly supported by Canon Australia and

Comments and Enquiries: John Sarkissian of the AstroFest Organising Committee