Galway man crowned winner of astrophotography competition

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Josh Mathews, To the Waters and the Wild

Galway man Josh Mathews has been chosen as the winner of the inaugural Reach for the Stars astrophotography competition, run by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

His winning photo ‘To the Waters and the Wild’ features the night sky over Crocnaraw on the Connemara coast.

Mr. Mathews, a PhD student at UCD from Shanbolard, Moyard, was selected as the winner by an expert judging panel after a rigorous judging process of over 180 entries.

Two competition runners-up were also selected by the judges:  Ciarán P. O’Donnell from Belfast for his image ‘Cygnus Mosaic in Hubble Palette’; and Tom O’Hanlon from Tullamore in Co. Offaly for his submission, ‘North Star Jesuit House’.

Professor Peter Gallagher, Head of Astrophysics at DIAS and a member of the judging panel, said that he standard of entries to the competition was excellent, and the judging panel had a very difficult job making its final selection.

“Josh’s image captures a beautiful starry night sky against a striking Irish landscape,” said Professor Gallagher.

“It is such a dramatic image – there is almost something mystical about it. It also showcases his obvious talent as an astrophotographer.”

Brenda Fitzsimons, Picture Editor of The Irish Times and a member of the judging panel, said: “I’m simply in awe of the talent, perseverance and technical ability applied to accomplish these wonderful images.

“Josh’s photograph is not only astonishingly beautiful and a well-balanced image, it is perfectly executed.

“It is evident that this photographer has immense technical knowledge and patience. It’s also clear that he conducted both day and night-time reconnaissance, researched the location and is familiar with shooting the night sky.”

A selection of the judges’ top-rated images in the ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition is now available to view in an online exhibition on the DIAS website,

An outdoor exhibition at DIAS’s premises on Burlington Road is planned for the coming weeks, followed – later in the summer – by an exhibition at DIAS Dunsink Observatory.