Competition of Astrophotography


We are very pleased to announce an astrophotography exhibition open to everyone who enjoys capturing the elusive beauty of the night sky -- and is good at it. What 'good' means is inevitably subjective, but it includes aesthetic merit, technical quality and originality, and these are the criteria that the three judges will be looking for.

The judging panel will consist of Noel Carboni (USA), well known for his innovative astronomy software, Greg Parker (UK), Greg Parker, Professor of Photonics at the University of Southampton, Hampshire, UK and David Malin (Australia, Chair), who made some of the first, true colour astronomical images in the 1970s.

The competition is one of many events associated with the STARMUS Festival that will take place in the Canary Islands between 20 and 25 of June, 2011, and the overall winner will enjoy an all expenses paid trip to the Festival and a life-time opportunity to carry out a 60 min observation of the object of his/her choice with the largest optical telescope in the world: the GTC (GRANTECAN or Gran Telescopio Canarias) located on the island of La Palma.  We will also award attractive prizes to the best entrant in three other categories. The cash equivalent of the winning prize will be $2000. The second and the third prize-winners will receive $500 and $250, respectively.

Up to five entries can be accepted in each of four categories, up to a maximum of 10 images, which can be monochrome or colour:

1. Wide field images, including star trails, twilights, TWAN-style pictures, tracked or untracked, but taken using off-the-shelf consumer cameras.

2. Solar system objects, which would include solar, lunar, planetary, cometary ,etc., photography using any technique or equipment, including webcams.

3. Deep sky pictures made with telescopes. This category can include galaxies, nebulae, star cluster and star fields, anything beyond the solar system.

4. Animations, by which we mean movies of any sort, provided the main ingredient is real astronomical image content.

Full details of the competition rules and how to enter and submit images are provided  in the Competition rules and Conditions.

Competition Rules and Conditions [v3, 15 January,  2010]

1. Submission Procedure

You should register with Flickr, Picasa or Dropbox data sharing engines, upload your images (Minimum size between 1200 and 2000 pix on the longest side) and inform us by email: The metadata and/or caption text files should be emailed to

All entries must be submitted by May 1, 2011.

We will announce the winners on May, 15.

2. Eligibility

Submission is open to everyone, except those involved in the running of the Competition itself and the organizers of the STARMUS event. Images from professional astronomers or made with data obtained with professional astronomical facilities are not allowed. People aged under 18 are able to participate with their parent’s/guardian's written consent.

3. Categories and number of entries

Up to 10 entries can be submitted, divided as you wish among four categories, but with a limit of five entries in any one category. The categories are:

a) Wide field, by which we mean star trails, twilights TWAN-style pictures. (This category is important because it encourages people with off-the-shelf cameras to appreciate the night sky.)

b) Solar system, which would include solar, lunar, planetary, cometary, etc., photography using any technique, including webcams.

c) Deep sky (by which we mean pictures made with telescopes). This category can include galaxies, nebulae, star cluster and star fields, anything beyond the solar system.

d) Animations, by which we mean movies of any sort, provided they have real astronomical image content. We have in mind time-lapse sequences running for a few minutes, with or without music.

4. Judging criteria

The judging criteria will be based on:

a) Aesthetic merit—the image must striking, intriguing, attractive, appropriately cropped and presented.

b) Technical quality—no sign of technical problems such as digital processing artefacts, trailed stars and the like. We expect digital processing, but do not expect to notice it.

c) Originality—a fresh, unusual or innovative approach.

The deliberations of the judges are necessarily subjective. They remain confidential and their decisions are final. No correspondence will be entered into.

5. General conditions

The competition will be completely digital, and the judges will be using calibrated monitors to assess them. Images will be submitted as digital files, between 1200 and 2000 pix on the longest side, ideally as .JPG files. HD or other movies can also be submitted, in any of the widely readable formats.

There should be no identification on the image itself (see below for copyright). Each image or group of images must be accompanied by a separate file with brief caption information, including:

1. Your name and contact details (including e-mail)

2. Category of entry / file name

3. Object or field name, or image title.

4. Telescope or device used to create the image

5. Aggregate (total) exposure time

6. Agreement to the conditions set out in Section 6

7. Brief credit line to appear with your pictures

If several images are submitted this information can be in one text file. The mode of transmission can be any of the suggestions below. 

6. Copyright 

The competition organizers will respect the author's copyright in the images submitted. The images you provide will not be copied or distributed in any form, except as necessary for the STARMUS event, the exhibition and their associated publicity. If images are used on the web in this connection, they will be used at low res and with burned-in or adjacent credit lines. All the accepted images will be shown on high resolution displays during the STARMUS meeting, and the organizers will endeavour to include the author's details on-screen with the image(s). Requests for other uses of the images will be forwarded to their respective authors.

We expect that winners will receive wide publicity, and it is a condition of entry that the winning entries can be distributed to the media in this connection. Any press or media release will emphasize that the images are copyright, and that they are supplied for media use in the context of the STARMUS event only.