David’s as­tro pic has gone stel­lar

Macclesfield Express - - MACCLESFIELD PEOPLE -

AN am­a­teur snap­per is reach­ing for the stars af­ter be­ing nom­i­nated for a na­tional as­tron­omy pho­tog­ra­phy award.

David Tol­l­i­day, 60, from Tyther­ing­ton, has had his pho­to­graph of the Orion and neigh­bour­ing ‘Run­ning Man’ neb­u­lae short­listed for The Sir Pa­trick Moore Prize for Best New­comer in the In­sight As­tron­omy Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year 2015 com­pe­ti­tion.

A ne­bula is a cloud of gas and dust in outer space, vis­i­ble in the night sky.

The award, or­gan­ised by the Royal Ob­ser­va­tory at Green­wich is for those prac­tis­ing ‘astropho­tog­ra­phy’ since Jan­uary last year who have not en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion be­fore.

The pic­ture rep­re­sents David’s first se­ri­ous at­tempt at the genre, usu­ally pre­fer­ring to pho­to­graph wildlife.

David, who is a char­tered surveyor, said: “I feel over­joyed to be short­listed and for my photo to be in­cluded in the book ‘In­sight Astropho­tog­ra­pher of the Year 2015’.

“I al­ways used to look up at the sky when I was a lit­tle boy and won­der what was up there.”

He de­scribed how a talk at Mac­cles­field Cam­era Club, where he has been a mem­ber for 25 years, aroused his in­ter­est in the sub­ject, which he says he now finds ‘ad­dic­tive’.

The pho­to­graph was taken from a spe­cial dark sky site in the Elan Val­ley in Wales us­ing a long 500mm lens and is a com­bi­na­tion of five ex­po­sures to cap­ture the bright­ness of the ne­bula’s dif­fer­ent parts.

David said: “The sky is com­pletely dif­fer­ent to Mac­cles­field’s be­cause of the light pol­lu­tion here. In Mac­cles­field you can count the stars in­di­vid­u­ally whereas at a dark sky site you see thou­sands.”

He added: “It would be amaz­ing to win the award but I think it’s un­likely; I’m just pleased my photo will be in the book.”

He added: “My fam­ily think I’m mad go­ing out at two in the morn­ing, my tri­pod cov­ered in frost but I love it.”

David says the most im­pres­sive sight he has seen dur­ing his night out­ings was the Per­seids me­teor shower, one of the year’s bright­est showers, oc­cur­ring be­tween July 17 and Au­gust 24, in the York­shire Dales.

He said: “It was ab­so­lutely bril­liant. I was with my cousin in his gar­den and we were ly­ing on sunbeds in sleep­ing bags cov­ered in dew.”

He also praised Mac­cles­field Cam­era Club, where mem­bers were al­ways en­cour­aged to try new things.

The win­ner of the award and the £350 prize money will be an­nounced on Septem­ber 17.

Or­bit De­vel­op­ments leas­ing di­rec­tor Paul McLeman, left, and Fourths head of bureau ser­vices Sh­eryl Cox

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●● David with the equip­ment he uses for tak­ing the Orion ne­bula. Inset, the nom­i­nated pic­ture

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