Photographers eye ‘star’ role in national contest

THREE Donegal astro-photographers have been shortlisted for this year’s ‘Reach for the Stars’ competition.

Run by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Reach for the Stars aims to find the best celestial images taken in Ireland over the past year.

Among those to make it to the latter stages of the contest is Letterkenny’s Daragh Mc Donough who has been shortlisted in the ‘Back on Earth’ category.

Joseph Cullen from Buncrana and Treasa Giblin Frazer from Lifford have also made it through in the same section.


Over 160 images were submitted this year with 40 selected across two categories – ‘Out of this World’ and ‘Back on Earth’. The ‘Out of this World’ category features images depicting elements of astronomical interest. ‘Back on Earth’ features astro-landscape images that depict an element of astronomical interest and elements such as nature, cityscapes, land or water.

Darragh McDonough snapped this incredible image of the Northern Lights flaring over Letterkenny. He took the photo from Knockybrin, a small hill to the north of the town.

While a judging panel will select the overall winning entries next month, an online vote has been launched so members of the public can have their say.

Among the judges is Professor Peter Gallagher, Head of Astrophysics at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS).

He said the standard of entries this year was particularly high.

“It is amazing what the photographers have been able to capture, from stars and galaxies that are millions of light years away to stunning scenery back on earth,” Professor Gallagher said.

Buncrana’s Joseph Cullen captured this sparkling image of the Milky Way in the Sperrin Mountains near Moneyneany, Co Derry.


“I’m particularly excited to be involved in selecting this year’s special prize to mark the 75th anniversary of DIAS’s School of Cosmic Physics. I’ll be looking for an image that depicts the work of one or more of the research areas carried out at the school. This includes research on everything from solar and stellar physics and space weather to planetary science, geological formations and star formations.

“We hope the people of Donegal will get involved again this year in the public vote and cast their vote for their favourite image.”

All shortlisted images can be viewed at where members of the public can also cast their vote.

An outdoor exhibition will be staged by DIAS in August to showcase the best photographs.

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