Results from the 2009 David Malin Awards

Over the weekend of the 19-20 July 2009, the CWAS Astrofest was held at Parkes, NSW. It’s an annual event that also includes the David Malin Awards – Australia’s premier astrophotography competition.

The David Malin Awards are judged by, of course, world-renowned professional astrophotographer, David Malin who was the photographic scientist-astronomer at the Anglo-Australian Telescope for over 25 years (read my Nov 2006 interview with David at IceInSpace).

Australia’s best and up and coming best astrophotographers submit images each year in the hope that at least one of them will make David sit up and take notice. The images are submitted and judged in the following categories:

  • Amateur – Wide-Field, Deep Sky and Solar System Objects
  • Semi-Professional
  • Junior (16 or under)
  • Open – “Twilight”
  • The David Malin Innovation Prize

The overall winner was the very talented Gary Hill, with his marvellous shot of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) which took out the Amateur Widefield category.

Large Magellanic Cloud by Gary Hill - Amateur Widefield

Large Magellanic Cloud by Gary Hill - Amateur Widefield

Please continue reading to find out the rest of the winners and see the images I entered into the competition.

Along with Gary’s beautiful overall winning shot from the Amateur Widefield category, the other category winners were:

  • Marcus Davies, in the Amateur Deep Sky category, for a beautiful image of NGC6188, NGC6164-6165.
NGC6188, 6164-6165 by Marcus Davies - Amateur Deep Sky

NGC6188, 6164-6165 by Marcus Davies - Amateur Deep Sky

  • Phil Hart, in the Amateur Solar System category, for a timely image of the Smiley Face Conjunction.
"A Timely Conjunction" by Phil Hart - Solar System

"A Timely Conjunction" by Phil Hart - Solar System

  • Eddie Trimarchi, in the Semi-Professional category, for a stunning widefield mosaic of the Southern Cross and Coalsack.
"The Southern Cross and Coalsack" by Eddie Trimarchi - Semi-Professional

"The Southern Cross and Coalsack" by Eddie Trimarchi - Semi-Professional

  • Terry Cuttle, in the Open “Twilight” category, for his emotive image of the 2008 Solar Eclipse over the Great Wall of China.
"Eclipse over the Great Wall" by Terry Cuttle - Open "Twilight"

"Eclipse over the Great Wall" by Terry Cuttle - Open "Twilight"

  • Fred Vanderhaven, in the Innovation category for his unique starless lagoon image.
"Starless Lagoon Nebula M8" by Fred Vanderhaven - Innovation

"Starless Lagoon Nebula M8" by Fred Vanderhaven - Innovation

Congratulations to the category winners – truly beautiful shots well deserving of their place in the winners circle.

The Honourable Mentions winners included Doug Robertson, Phil Hart (3 times!), Bill Christie (twice), Mike Sidonio, Marcus Davies, Darrin Nitschke, Max Kilmister (twice), Paul Haese, David Hough, Gary Hill, myself, Russell Cockman and Peter Ward (twice).

I submitted a number of images for the competition – a few hi-res Jupiter shots as well as some widefield and twilight images, including my Smiley Face Conjunction image, my Jupiter, Moon Mars and Venus Conjunction image, and a few from my Images in the Twilight set.

Here’s a selection of images I submitted to the competition, and keep reading below for more commentary on the awards.


Saturated Colour Full Moon


Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars Conjunction


The Four Rocky Planets


Trails of Orion Rising


Dawn Moon Earthshine


Heart of the Milky Way


Jupiter and Callisto


Smiley Face Conjunction at Sunset

It’s very difficult to choose the category that the images should be submitted to – my camera shots could go in Solar System (because they have moon/planets in them), Widefield (because they are), and the Twilight (open) theme. Phil Hart’s beautiful conjunction image won the Solar System category, and Terry Cuttle’s stunning eclipse shot won the Twilight theme. Either of those images could have easily been in either category. What makes one a solar system image and one twilight? They have almost identical elements in them.

But at the same time, I believe David has the freedom to move images between categories if he so chooses, and has done so at times 🙂 So I guess it’s up to the photographer to simply submit images that will grab David’s eye, regardless of the category it’s in or what category it gets moved to.

I was fortunate enough to have been awarded an Honourable Mention in the Twilight category for my Smiley Face Conjunction shot, and will receive a Canon IXUS 80IS as a prize.

The David Malin Awards are always closely contested and I enjoy it for the challenge of trying to present the best images I can – it pushes me harder to try to submit something unique and beautiful.

Ultimately, you submit images to the David Malin Awards knowing the rules, and hoping you’ve got something David will like. Competitions like this are always subjective so there’s no point worrying yourself over who won what and who didn’t win for whatever reason. I know i’ll be trying again next year.

More information about the awards, pictures of the winners, David’s citations on the winning images and images from the Honourable Mentions can be found at the official CWAS Astrofest David Malin Awards page.

For more images and reading, Phil Hart has a nice writeup and his collection of entries over at his blog (including his great “Dish” time-lapse), and Mike Sidonio has some pics of the event on his gallery.

Thanks for reading.

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