The 2016 CWAS AstroFest

"The David Malin Awards"

In July 2016, 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 - "Light Pollution": The Bad and the Beautiful
  • 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 16 July 2016. The dignitaries included Dr Pete Worden, Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Dr Paul Lasky of LIGO/Monash University, Dr Lee Spitler of AAO/Macquarie University, The Parkes Mayor, Cr Ken Keith, Kate Guaran of Canon Australia and Dr John Reynolds of CSIRO/CASS.

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 over $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 205,000 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 17 July 2016. A second touring exhibition, organised by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, will travel to selected venues, beginning with Sydney Observatory on 13 August 2016.

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

© Troy Casswell
Winner: Troy Casswell

OVERALL WINNER "Smilin' Orion"

Citation: "This is a very challenging field to photograph, given its enormous extent and very wide dynamic range, with the very bright Orion nebula and the delicately structured faint arc of Barnard's Loop. These issues are beautifully handled here and the image is aesthetically well balanced and presented. A worthy winner."

© Peter Ward
Winner: Peter Ward
Deep Sky

"Trumpler 14"

Citation: "This amazingly detailed image is of the southern sky's most interesting nebula around its most dynamic and unstable star, Eta Carina. The whole frame reveals excellent colour balance, beautifully controlled dynamic range and admirable fine structure, visible thoughout. Beautiful!"

© Stephen Humpleby
Winner: Stephen Humpleby

"Stormy Stars"

Citation: "This dramatic image has evidently composed itself, beneath a night sky scattered with pin-point stars, and it emphasises the fleeting and unexpected colours and dramatic clouds of a passing thunderstorm. A remarkably beautiful night-time landscape. "

© Craig Semple
Winner: Craig Semple
Solar System

"The Hidden Colours of the Moon"

Citation: "The Moon's dark surface has subtle colour variations that give its reflected light its slightly yellowish hue. In this excellent image these colours are deliberately exaggerated, revealing the varying composition of our satellite's surface."

© Neil Creek
Winner: Neil Creek
Theme - "Light Pollution: The Bad and the Beautiful"

"The Milky Way over Bonnie Doon"

Citation: "A very well structured image that includes the distinctive band of the distant Milky Way above the yellow glow of Melbourne, about 100 km away on the horizon. It combines the bad and the beautiful in a way that catches the eye and obliges the thoughtful observer to consider the scene, which was the intention of this category."

© James Stone
Winner: James Stone
Animated Sequences

"Under the Southern Lights"

Citation: "There's an appealing kind of whimsy about this footage that lends it charm, with figures romantically and randomly appearing in the sea-shore foreground, as the dramatic aurorae and subtle bioluminesescence create an ever-changing backdrop throughout the night."

The Photo Editor's Choice

©James Stone
Winner: James Stone
Photo Editor's Choice - judged by Jeff Darmanin

"Exaltation Moon Warrior"

Citation: "The winner shows the ability of the photographer to not only create a beautiful image, but also capture it in relation to a human shape. In publishing this is always the challenge for a photographer. When a Picture Editor sees an image with this combination it's usually something special."

Click on the images to see the larger versions

The Competition - Honorable Mentions

Deep Sky

© Bill Christie

© Paul Haese
"M7 OPen Cluster in a Sea of Stars"
Bill Christie
"Star Factory"
Paul Haese

© Peter Ward

© Andrew Campbell
"Star City"
Peter Ward
"The Painted Lobster (NGC 6357)"
Andrew Campbell
Photo Editor's Pick


© Chris Marklew

© Alex Cherney
"The Large Magellanic Cloud"
Chris Marklew
"Close Comet, Planets and the Milky Way"
Alex Cherney

© Phil Hart

© Arwen Dyer
"Rival to Mars"
Phil Hart
"Milky Way Burst"
Arwen Dyer
Photo Editor's Pick


© Judith Conning

© Judith Conning

© Arwen Dyer

© Svantje Mertens
"Arctic Nights"
Judith Conning
"Night at the Beach"
Judith Conning
"Fleeting Light"
Arwen Dyer
"Conjunction Cross"
Svantje Mertens

Solar System

© Peter Ward

© Peter Ward

© Stefan Buda
"Jet Stream"
Peter Ward
Plus Photo Editor's Pick
"Stellar Rip"
Peter Ward
"Saturn 2016"
Stefan Buda

© Edward Dobosz
"Lunar Limb Flyover"
Edward Dobosz

Theme - "Light Pollution: The Bad and the Beautiful"

© Greg Bradley

© Andrew Davis

© Kristen McEwan
"Vanuatu Milky Way"
Greg Bradley
"Oberon Mill Illumination"
Andrew Davis
"Guiding Lights"
Kristen McEwan

© Peter Hilkmann

© Stephen Humpleby
"Church of the Good Shepherd under the Milky Way"
Peter Hilkmann
"Coronet Peak Light Pollution plus Air Glow"
Stephen Humpleby
Photo Editor's Pick


© Scott Carnie-Bronca
"The Tarantula Nebula"
Scott Carnie-Bronca

Animated Sequences: Scientific

(Click on the image to view the video)

© Peter Ward
"Solar Limb"
Peter Ward

Animated Sequences: Aesthetic

(Click on the image to view the video)

© Stephen Humpleby
"Stars of the Southern Skies"
Stephen Humpleby

The Presentation Ceremony - 16 July 2016

© Maggi Barnard

The guests speakers at the 2016 CWAS AstroFest. (L-R): John Sarkissian, Phil Hart, Eileen Newport (CWAS President), Alex Cherney, Dr Pete Worden (keynote speaker), Cr Ken Keith, Dr David Malin, Dr Lee Spitler and Dr Paul Lasky.

The winners were presented with the awards by Dr David Malin himself, in the presence of invited dignitaries, during the CWAS AstroFest dinner on 16 July 2016. The dignitaries included the Mayor of Parkes, Cr Ken Keith; Dr Pete Worden, Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation; Ms Kate Guaran of Canon Australia; Dr Paul Lasky of LIGO/Monash University; Dr Lee Spitler of AAO/Macquarie University, Dr John Reynolds of CSIRO/CASS and Eileen Newport, President of the CWAS.

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

The overall winner of the 2016 CWAS "David Malin Awards" was Troy Casswell of Coolum Beach, Qld, for his beautiful image of the Orion Constellation and Barnard's Loop, "Smilin' Orion".

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, 17 July 2016. 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 Friday, 13 August 2016. Last year's exhibitions were a resounding success, with over 205,000 people viewing the exhibitions Australia-wide.

Canon Australia supports the current 2016 competition with Estore vouchers valued at over $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

© John Sarkissian

© John Sarkissian

© Denis Crute

© Brad Le Brocque

© Brad Le Brocque

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

The Galileo Trophies and Canon Estore Voucher Prizes (in envelopes) waiting to be presented

© John Sarkissian

© Denis Crute

The Award Winners

© John Sarkissian

All of the 2016 "David Malin Awards" Winners.
(Back L-R): Peter Hilkmann, Greg Bradley, Kristen McEwan, Chris Marklew, Craig Semple, Peter Ward, Kate Guran (Canon Australia) James Stone, Troy Casswell, Alex Cherney, David Malin (Judge), Stefan Buda, Svantje Mertens, Phil Hart, Judith Conning and Neil Creek. Not Shown: Andrew Davis
Not Present: Stephen Humpleby, Edward Dobosz, Arwen Dyer, Bill Christie, Paul Haese and Scott Carnie-Bronca.

© John Sarkissian

The category winners with Dr David Malin.
(L-R): Craig Semple, Peter Ward, David Malin, Troy Casswell, Neil Creek and James Stone.
Not Present: Stephen Humpleby.


© John Sarkissian

© Brad Le Brocque

Troy with his Galileo Trophies

Canon Australia Prizes

Ms Kate Guaran, representing Canon Australia, presented Estore voucher prizes to the award winners, in recognition by Canon Australia of the excellence that was judged by Dr David Malin in their work.


Astronomy 2017 Calendar by Astrovisuals

The Astronomy 2017 Calendar features the winners of the 2016 CWAS "David Malin Awards". Order here.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Start preparing your astrophotos for the 2017 CWAS "David Malin Awards", and share with the wider public your enthusiasm for the grandeur and beauty of astronomy.

The 2016 CWAS "David Malin Awards" was proudly supported by Canon Australia and

Comments and Enquiries: John Sarkissian of the AstroFest Organising Committee