Winners of the David Malin Awards, Australia’s most prestigious astrophotography awards, have been announced for 2021.

The night sky has always inspired humans and sparked our curiosity. Since the mid-19th Century astrophotography has allowed us to capture the beauty of the sky above.

Many of the core capturing techniques remain today, but with greatly improved images through ever-improving camera technology.

Over time our fascination with space has been matched by a growing understanding of our Universe: how stars are born and die, and galaxies form, and the existence of different types of matter. Astrophotography speaks to our curiosity and wonder, and brings the mysteries of the Universe closer to us.

More than 260 entries were received this year in the David Malin Awards run by the Central West Astronomical Society. The entries were judged by a panel of distinguished photographers. World-renowned astrophotographer Dr David Malin chose the overall winners from the panel’s selection.  

The winning entries, which feature shots by both seasoned and rising stars of astrophotography, will be on display at our Parkes radio telescope from September.  

The winners

A astrophotograph of stars in the nights sky with an ocean in the foreground at night time.
Nightscapes Winner and Overall Winner: Between a rock and outer space by Marley Butler

The judges said: “What makes this montage work is the overall colour balance with the evident but not dominant rocky foreground and the softened, time-exposed sea. The stars are pin-sharp, and the Milky Way embraces the whole thing, including the zodiacal light.” 

An astrophotography image of stars in the nights sky.
Wide-Field Winner: Rides Blue Horsehead by Ian Inverarity and Rho Ophiuchi

The judges said: “One of the most colourful regions in the night sky. Our judges were impressed with its excellent framing, technical handling of colour and dynamic range.” 

A colourful image of stars in the nights sky.
Deep Sky Winner: The Trifid Nebula by Paul Montague

The judges said: “The intrinsically beautiful Trifid nebula is a difficult subject to get right because of the wide dynamic range, colourful reflection regions and dust absorption lanes. This image shows excellent technical execution, as well as an engaging image scale.” 

An astrophotography image of the planet Jupiter repeated three times.
Solar System Winner:  A rippling outbreak on Jupiter by Andy Casely

The judges said: “These images of Jupiter have subtle colours and excellent detail. Andy captured a new transient feature in the planet’s northern hemisphere as well as another interesting event in the southern hemisphere. Jupiter’s moons are a bonus.” 

Rising star

An astrophotography image of a red planet with lighter images of the same planet on the left and right.
Junior Honourable Mention: Into Shadow: Faces of the Eclipse by Zachery Thexeira

The judges said: “There was no junior winner this year due to the low number of entries. However, this composite image entered by Zachery deserves an honourable mention.” 

An astrophotography image of the moon during the lunar eclipse.
Animations – Aesthetic Winner: Totality by Mitch Payne

The judges said: “A combination of telescopic focal lengths and wide-angle sequences provides multiple views of the 2021 total lunar eclipse in a finely crafted narrative. This is a gentle and evocative work that is well-edited and a perfectly matched soundtrack.” 

A time-lapse astrophotography image tracking a satellite moving across a planet.
Animations – Scientific Winner: Studies of satellite transits by Kelvin Hennessy

The judges said: “It is difficult to capture these fleeting events. This sequence of satellite and IIS transits required meticulous planning and hours of shooting to produce 60 seconds of engaging imagery.” 

These inspiring photos are out of this world. Which is your favourite of this year’s winning photos?


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