DIAS appeals to longford astronomy and photography enthusiasts

The Dublin Institute for Advanced Study (DIAS) ‘Reach for the Stars’ astrophotography competition is back for its second year and invites people in Longford interested in photography and astronomy to submit their images.

The competition, which is now open for entries, seeks the best astronomical photographs taken in Ireland between April 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022. It calls for entries in two separate categories:

Out of this World: Images depicting scenes/features or items of astronomical interest. For example, images from deep space or images from the solar system.
Back to Earth: Astro-landscape images that depict a feature or item of astronomical interest and capture elements such as nature, cityscapes, buildings or monuments, land or water.

Last year’s winner was Josh Mathews of Shanbolard, Moyard, Co. Galway. His image “To the Waters and the Wild” depicted the night sky above Crocnaraw on the Connemara coast in County Galway.

Launching the competition, Dr. Eucharia Meehan, CEO and Registrar of DIAS, said, “DIAS is delighted to launch the 2022 Reach for the Stars competition. Following the huge success of last year’s competition, we are excited to see what entries will be submitted this year, what creativity people bring and what images they have captured.

“DIAS has a rich heritage and expertise in astronomy and it is fantastic to be able to showcase this, while capturing the imagination and creativity of the public through the wonders of space.

“Last year we received entries from people in Longford and across the country, and this year we hope to see even more. The competition is open to all, whether seasoned professionals or keen amateurs of We just asked them to carefully follow the contest guidelines when submitting to ensure their images are eligible.

Also commenting, Professor Peter Gallagher, Head of Astrophysics at DIAS and Jury Member, said: “As Jury members, we were blown away by the submissions to the competition last year. Images that captured very complex astronomical features and others that perfectly captured the night sky against the beautiful Irish landscape – we had such a range of entries making our job as judges very difficult.

“As part of the competition, it was great to have the shortlisted entries printed for our outdoor exhibition at DIAS last year. Seeing them in large format really brings them to life and we hope to do the same with the shortlisted entries. of this year.

“This year DIAS marks the 75th anniversary of the School of Cosmic Physics and we will be launching a full program of events later in the month. As part of these celebrations, we will award a special prize to a photograph entered in the competition that illustrates the work of one or more areas of research carried out at the School. These research areas include everything from solar and stellar physics and space weather to planetary science and star formation.

“We call on people to be creative. Whether you have professional equipment or just a smartphone, the competition is open to everyone over the age of 18. We can’t wait to see what astronomical events inspired people this year and what they captured.

Contest details

Entries in the “Reach for the Stars” competition will be judged by Brenda Fitzsimons, Photo 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, Account Manager, Alice PR & Events.

Entrants may submit up to two images per category to the contest. The registration deadline is 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 30.

All competition entries will be reviewed by a screening committee to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria. The shortlisted images in each category will then be submitted for jury review and online public voting.


The winning photographers in the two main categories, selected by the jury, will receive a prize package including:

Publication of their images on the DIAS and Irish Times websites;
A VIP tour of the DIAS Dunsink Observatory – with the chance to look through Ireland’s largest refractor telescope.
A pass for up to four people to ‘Race to Space’, a fully immersive escape experience, hosted at the DIAS Dunsink Observatory.
€500 voucher for photographic/telescopic equipment; and
A 12-month Premium Digital subscription to The Irish Times.

Two finalists from each category will also be selected by the jury and will each receive a €200 voucher for photographic/telescopic equipment. The winner of the People’s Choice category, elected by the public, will also receive a voucher worth €150 for photographic/telescopic equipment.

DIAS intends that the winning and highly commended images will also be included in an exhibition at DIAS in 2022. Additionally, all shortlisted images will be included in an online exhibition – for public voting purposes – on the website of DIAS, www. dias.ie.

The DIAS ‘Reach for the Stars’ contest is organized in partnership with The Irish Times and is sponsored by Alice PR & Events. The Irish Astronomical Society supports the initiative.

Further information, including competition guidelines and entry form, is available at www.reachforthestars.ie.

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