David’s astro pic has gone stellar
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
●● David with the equipment he uses for taking the Orion nebula. Inset, the nominated picture