2021 CWAS Astrophotography Exhibition and Competition - "David Malin Awards"
The 2021 CWAS AstroFest

"The David Malin Awards"

In July 2021, the Central West Astronomical Society held its annual astrophotography competition. Amateur astronomers and photographers from around Australia were invited to take part in the competition and to submit their astrophotographs for consideration in the prestigious "David Malin Awards". Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, a special online presentation was held on Saturday, 24 July 2021, to announce the winning images.

This year's competition had seven categories:

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

This year saw a change in the judging structure. In order to build on the experience of previous years, and to continue as the premier competition of its kind in Australia, a panel of three distinguished Australian astrophotographers judged the category entries. Dr David Malin then judged the Overall Winner from the list of these winners, as the best in show. We were honoured that the judging panel including Peter Ward, Phil Hart, and Alex Cherney, all previous winners of the "David Malin Awards", and numerous other national and international astrophotography competitions.

The winners of the "David Malin Awards" were announced on Saturday, 24 July 2021, during a special online, Zoom presentation attended by the competition entrants, and the members of the Central West Astronomical Society.

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. Celestron Australia supported the competition with Online Gift 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 200,000 people Australia-wide.

After the COVID-19 restrictions have eased, this year's permanent exhibition will be on show at the CSIRO Parkes Observatory's Visitor's Centre for one year. A second touring exhibition, organised by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, will travel to selected venues, beginning with Sydney Observatory in October.

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

© Marley Butler
Winner: Marley Butler

OVERALL WINNER "Between a Rock and Outer Space"

Citation: "This is a lovely montage. What makes it work is the overall colour balance, the evident but not dominant rocky foreground and the softened, time-exposed sea. The stars are pin-sharp, and the Milky Way embraces the whole thing, including the zodiacal light. Beautiful!"

© Ian Inverarity
Winner: Ian Inverarity

"Rho Ophiuchi Rides the Blue Horsehead"

Citation: "This is one of the most colourful regions in the night sky and this unusual presentation impressed all three judges with excellent framing, good technical handling colour and dynamic range. It was the standout image of the section."

© Paul Montague
Winner: Paul Montague
Deep Sky

"The Trifid Nebula"

Citation: "This intrinsically beautiful nebula is a difficult subject to get right, given the wide dynamic range, colourful reflection regions and dust absorption lanes. This image shows excellent technical execution, as well as an engaging image scale."

© Andy Casely
Winner: Andy Casely
Solar System

"A Rippling Outbreak on Jupiter"

Citation: "These are lovely images with subtle colours and excellent detail. Happily, they also capture a new transient feature in the planet's northern hemisphere as well as another interesting event in the southern hemisphere. Jupiter's moons are a bonus."

© Mitch Payne
Winner: Mitch Payne
Animation - Aesthetic


Citation: "This is a gentle piece of work, with a well-chosen soundtrack and nicely edited footage. A combination of telescopic focal lengths and wide-angle sequences provides multiple views of the 2021 total lunar eclipse in a finely crafted narrative."

© Kelvin Hennessy
Winner: Kelvin Hennessy
Animation - Scientific

"Studies of Satellite Transits"

Citation: "This sequence of satellite and ISS transits required meticulous planning to successfully capture these fleeting events. It's very difficult to make them look pretty, but the number and variety of sequences makes them interesting and engaging."

The Photo Editor's Choice

© Ian Inverarity
Winner: Ian Inverarity
Photo Editor's Choice - judged by Jeff Darmanin (Head of Vision & Picture Editor, The Sunday Telegraph)

"Sheltering from the Starlight"

Citation: "What a wonderful balance between the night sky & such an iconic and majestic tree in a unique Australian outback landscape. The balance created with the human lighting up the detail of the age in the trunk and outer branches helps create an extra dimension to the image while also giving scale to the overall scene. A cracking picture."

Click on the images to see the larger versions

The Competition - Honorable Mentions

Solar System

© Andy Casely

© Stefan Buda
"Mars 2020: Perseverence"
Andy Casely
Plus Photo Editor's Pick
"Rugged Moon"
Stefan Buda

© Paul Haese

© Neil MacNeill
Paul Haese
"Mars - Olympus Mons Dominating"
Niall MacNeill


© Ian Inverarity

© Jan Breckwoldt

© Ari Rex
"Sheltering from the Starlight"
Ian Inverarity
Photo Editor's Overall Winner
"Startrails in the City"
Jan Breckwoldt
"Beautiful Universe"
Ari Rex
Photo Editor's Pick

© Alex van Harmelen

© Alex van Harmelen

© Alex van Harmelen
"Stars over the Cathedral"
Alex van Harmelen
"Lake Catani Moonrise"
Alex van Harmelen
"Pendergast Hut Display"
Alex van Harmelen


© Kelvin Hennessy
"Witches Head to Cone Nebula"
Kelvin Hennessy

© Garry McDougall
"Cesjacks Hut"
Garry McDougall
Photo Editor's Pick

Deep Sky

© Marcus Davies

© Rodney Watters
"Bejewelled Oasis (NGC 134)"
Marcus Davies
"Nebula in Corona Australis"
Rodney Watters

© Niall MacNeill

© Paul Montague

© David Moulton
"NGC 1532 - Galaxy Distortion Action"
Niall MacNeill
"Thors Helmet"
Paul Montague
"Running Chicken IC2944"
David Moulton
Photo Editor's Pick


© Zachery Thexeira
"Into Shadow: Faces of the Eclipse"
Zachery Thexeira
Plus Photo Editor's Pick

Animated Sequences: Aesthetic

© David Magro
"Welcome Home"
David Magro

Animated Sequences: Scientific

The Special Online Presentation - 24 July 2021

Owing to the COVID-19 lockdown situation and the associated social distancing measures in place, the presentation of the 2021 CWAS "David Malin Awards" was held during a special online Zoom presentation, on Saturday, 24 July 2021. It was attended by the competition entrants, and the members of the Central West Astronomical Society.

The competition represented entrants from every State and Territory of Australia (NSW, Qld, Vic, SA, WA, Tas and ACT).

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 will be on show at the CSIRO Parkes Observatory's Visitors Centre, and will be officially opened later in the year, when the COVID-19 restictions have eased and it is safe to travel and congregate again. It 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 in October. Last year's exhibitions were a resounding success, with over 200,000 people viewing the exhibitions Australia-wide. As such, it is the largest photographic exhibition in Australia, in terms of its reach and the number of visitations.

View the Online Presentation

Celestron Australia supported the 2021 competition with online gift voucher prizes valued at $10,000. The prizes include:

PlacingGift Voucher Prize
Overall Winner$2,300
Category Winner$1,000
Honourable Mention$300

The exhibition prints are produced using Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 and Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 printers at SUNSTUDIOS.

Astronomy 2022 Calendar by Astrovisuals

The Astronomy 2022 Calendar features the winners of the 2022 CWAS "David Malin Awards". Order here.

The 2022 Australasian Sky Guide

The winner of the cover competition for the "2022 Australasian Sky Guide", produced by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, is Marcus Davies, for his image, "Bejewelled Oasis (NGC 134)".

Congratulations to all the winners!

Start preparing your astrophotos for the 2022 CWAS "David Malin Awards" and share with the wider public your enthusiasm for the grandeur and beauty of astronomy.

The 2021 CWAS "David Malin Awards" was proudly supported by Celestron Australia and

Comments and Enquiries: John Sarkissian of the AstroFest Organising Committee