DIAS calls on Tipperary’s astronomy and photography fans

The competition, which is now open for entries, is seeking the best astro-photographs taken in Ireland over the period 1st April 2021 to 30th April 2022. It is calling for submissions under two distinct categories:

  1. Out of this World: Images depicting scenes / features or elements of astronomical interest. For example, deep space images or images of the solar system.
  2. 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.

Last year’s winner was Josh Mathews from Shanbolard, Moyard, Co. Galway. His image ‘To the Waters and the Wild’, depicted the night sky over Crocnaraw on the Connemara coast in Co. 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 on from 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 legacy and expertise in astronomy and it is fantastic to be able to showcase that, while also capturing the public’s imagination and creativity through the wonders of space.

“Last year we received entries from people in Tipperary and right across the country, and this year we hope to see even more. The competition is open to everyone – whether they are a seasoned professional or amateur with a love for astronomy. We just asked that they follow the competition guidelines carefully when making the submission to ensure their images are eligible.”

Also commenting, Professor Peter Gallagher, Head of Astrophysics at DIAS and member of the judging panel, said: “As a member of the judging panel, we were blown away by submissions to the competition last year. From images that captured very complex astronomical features and others that captured the night-sky perfectly against 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 again with this year’s shortlisted entries.

“This year DIAS marks the 75th anniversary of the School of Cosmic Physics and we will be launching a full programme of events later in the month. As part of these celebrations, we will be awarding a special spot prize to a photograph that is entered into the competition that depicts the work of one or more of the research areas 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’re calling on people 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.”

Competition Details

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, Account Director, Alice PR & Events.

Entrants may submit up to two images per category to the competition. The deadline for entries is 5pm on Saturday, 30th 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 main 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 Premium 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 2022.  Furthermore, all shortlisted images will be included in an online exhibition – for the purposes of the public vote – on DIAS’s website, www.dias.ie.

DIAS’s ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition is being run in partnership with The Irish Timesand 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 www.reachforthestars.ie.