Calling Clare stargazers for DIAS astrophotography competition

‘Reach for the Stars’, the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) astrophotography competition, has returned for the third year running and is calling on Clare’s budding astro-photographers to submit their images.

The competition, which opened for entries today (23.03.23), is seeking the best astro-photographs taken in Ireland over the period 1st May 2022 to 28th April 2023. It is calling for submissions under two distinct categories:

Out of this World: Images depicting scenes / features or elements of astronomical interest. For example, deep space images or images of the solar system.

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Back on Earth: Astro-landscape images that depict a feature or element of astronomical interest and capture elements such as nature, cityscapes, buildings or monuments, land, or water.

Launching the competition today, Dr. Eucharia Meehan, CEO and Registrar of DIAS, said: “DIAS is delighted to launch the ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition for 2023. Over the last two years we have been treated to a vast array of stunning images from photographers in Clare and across the island of Ireland and we’re looking forward to seeing what this year’s entrants have to offer.

“DIAS has a rich legacy and expertise in astronomy and it’s important for us to be able to make that accessible to the public. The ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition shows that photographing and capturing the night sky can be a hobby but is also educational. Often, viewing constellations, nebulae and deep space phenomena is left to scientists but the astro-photography competition is giving the public the opportunity to appreciate the wonders of our star filled skies.

“The competition is open to everyone – whether they are a seasoned professional or amateur with a love for astronomy. We just ask that they follow the competition guidelines carefully when making the submission to ensure their images are eligible.”

Last year’s winner in the ‘Back on Earth’ category was Felix Sproll from Galway City. His image ‘Milky Way Arch over Pine Island’ captured the Milky Way in a clear night sky over Pine Island at Derryclare Lough in Connemara, Co. Galway.

The winners in the ‘Out of this World’ category were Tom Dineen and Raluca Dana Lica from Naas, Co. Kildare. Their winning image ‘A Fiery Rosette’ captured the Rosette Nebula – an emission nebula in the constellation of Monoceros, located about 5,200 light-years away from Earth.

Also commenting, Professor Peter Gallagher, Head of Astronomy and Astrophysics at DIAS and member of the judging panel, said: “As a member of the judging panel, I’m highly impressed with the standard of images we have received over the last two years. There is a strong pool of talented astro-photographers – both professional and amateur – in Ireland which makes our job as judges very difficult.

“The night sky has been studied by Irish astronomers for centuries and it is deeply embedded in our heritage and culture. The ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition is a great way to bring that heritage to a modern audience and explore the night skies in a new way.

“We’re calling on people in Clare to get creative. Whether you have professional equipment, or simply just a smart phone – the competition is open to everyone over the age of 18 to enter. We look forward to seeing what astronomical events have inspired people this year, and what they have captured.”

Entries to the ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition will be judged by Brenda Fitzsimons, Picture Editor, The Irish Times; John Flannery, Vice-President, Irish Astronomical Society; Peter Gallagher, Senior Professor and Head of Astronomy and Astrophysics at DIAS and Niamh Breathnach, Director, Alice Public Relations.

Entrants may submit up to two images per category to the competition. The deadline for entries is 5pm on Friday, 28th April.

All entries to the competition will be screened by a shortlisting panel to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria. The shortlisted images in each category will then go forward for consideration by the judging panel and for an online public vote.

Prize Package

The winning photographers in the two categories, as selected by the judging panel, will receive a prize package that includes:

Publication of their images on the DIAS and Irish Times websites;

A VIP tour of DIAS Dunsink Observatory – with the opportunity to peer through Ireland’s largest refractor telescope.

One pass for up to four guests for ‘Race to Space’, a fully immersive escape room experience, hosted at DIAS Dunsink Observatory. 

A €500 voucher for photographic / telescopic equipment; and

A 12-month digital subscription to The Irish Times.

Two runners up in each category will also be selected by the judges, and will each receive a €200 voucher for photographic / telescopic equipment. The winner of the Public Choice category, as voted for by the public, will also receive voucher to the value of €150 for photographic / telescopic equipment.

It is DIAS’s intention that the winning and highly commended images will also be included in an exhibition at DIAS during 2023.  Furthermore, all shortlisted images will be included in an online exhibition – for the purposes of the public vote – on the competition website

DIAS’s ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition is being run in partnership with The Irish Times, and is sponsored by Alice PR & Events. The Irish Astronomical Society are initiative supporters.

Further information, including the competition guidelines and entry form, is available at

Photographed at the launch of the competition at Dollymount Strand in Dublin was Sadhbh Leahy, Public Engagement Officer at DIAS Dunsink Observatory and Jeremy Rigney, Lindsay PhD Scholar at DIAS and Armagh Observatory and Planetarium.. Pic: Marc O’Sullivan


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