Galwegians reach for the stars in astrophotography competition

Popular astronomy festival returns to Galway next week


Three Galway astro-photographers have been chosen for the next stage of the prestigious ‘Reach for the Stars’ astrophotography competition.

David Mackie, from Athenry, Galway has been shortlisted in the ‘Out of this World’ category for two of his images ‘Galaxies through the Dust’ and ‘The Spaghetti Nebula’. Enda O’Loughlin, from Loughrea, Galway, has been shortlisted in the ‘Back on Earth’ category for his image ‘Poulnabrone Arching Milkyway’, and Joe Silke, from Kilcolgan, Galway has been shortlisted in the ‘Back on Earth’ category for his image ‘Leaning into Polaris’.

Run by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, the competition aims to find the best astro-photographs taken in Ireland over the past year.

While a high-profile judging panel will select the overall winning entries in the coming weeks, an online vote has been for members of the public to have their say. Votes for the Public Choice Award are restricted to one vote per person, and voting will close at midday on Monday June 36.

All shortlisted images can be viewed on the ‘Reach for the Stars’ website,, and members of the public can cast their vote for their favourite image.

There are two categories in the competition: ‘Out of this World’ and ‘Back on Earth’. The ‘Out of this World’ category features images depicting elements of astronomical interest. The ‘Back on Earth’ category features astro-landscape images that depict an element of astronomical interest and elements such as nature, cityscapes, land or water.

The winning images selected by the judging panel and the public vote will be announced in July, and an outdoor exhibition will be staged by DIAS in August to showcase the best images.

Alongside the Public Choice Award for the winner of the online public vote, the overall winners and runners-up will be chosen by the judging panel for ‘Reach for the Stars’, which includes: Professor Peter Gallagher, Head of Astrophysics at DIAS; Brenda Fitzsimons, former photographer at the Galway Advertiser and now picture editor of The Irish Times; John Flannery, vice-president of the Irish Astronomical Society; and Niamh Breathnach, director of Alice Public Relations.

Professor Peter Gallagher of DIAS is “hoping the people of Galway will get involved again this year and cast their vote for their favourite image”.