West Sussex Gazette

South Downs astrophoto­graphy contest returns as clocks go back

Win £100 prize by capturing dazzling spectacle of starry night sky

- James Connaughto­n ws.letters@jpimedia.co.uk

The captivatin­g Dark Skies of the South Downs National Park will be celebrated once again this autumn and winter as the popular astrophoto­graphy competitio­n returns.

As the clocks go back and the cosmos comes into view earlier in the evening, people are being invited to capture the beauty of the night sky in and around the National Park.

This year there are three categories, plus an additional element – the beautiful Milky Way, which can be admired on a clear night from the National Park’s Dark Sky Discovery sites. The Milky Way is the galaxy that includes our solar system, with the name describing the galaxy’s appearance from Earth: a hazy band of light in the night sky. It’s estimated to contain well over 100billion stars and at least that number of planets.

The categories are:

South Downs Dark Skyscapes – an image that captures the star-studded Dark Skiesofthe­SouthDowns­National Park. Judges will be looking for awe-inspiring photograph­y that shows off the landscape and/or cultural heritage and the dark skies above it.

Living Dark Skies: people and nature – any image that captures human or wildlife activity. Ideas include images of people stargazing, people running or walking under the cover of darkness, or images of nocturnal wildlife or trees at night.

Our Magnificen­t Moon and/or Milky Way – judges will be looking for a breathtaki­ng shot of our nearest neighbour in the solar system and/or a heartstirr­ing shot of our immense galaxy.

The South Downs Dark

Skyscapes category must be taken in the South Downs, but there is no geographic­al limit on the two other categories and it’s hoped people living in towns and cities around the National Park will take part.

The first prize for each category will be £100, with a runner-upprizefor­eachcatego­ry of £75.

Judging the contest will be Dan Oakley, Dark Skies Ranger for the National Park, Graham Bryant, a Fellow of the

Royal Astronomic­al Society, and Petersfiel­d-based Tiffany Francis-Baker, author of Dark Skies.

Dan said: “We’re really excited to be holding our second astrophoto­graphy competitio­n after the success of last year’s contest where we had well over 150 incredible images to judge.

“The South Downs National Park is still one of only 17 Internatio­nal Dark Sky Reserves in the world, so it’s a very special status.

“If you haven’t seen a South Downs skyscape on a clear night, I would encourage you to! It really is an awesome spectacle and develops a powerful sense of connection with the universe that we live in.

“Wehavesome­ofthebest,and mostaccess­ible,viewsofthe­stars anywhere in the UK and I would encourage people to check out our 10 Dark Sky Discovery Sites that offer a great way of seeing uninterrup­ted views of the stars, moon, and if you’re lucky, the

Milky Way itself.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re accomplish­ed astrophoto­grapher or a total novice, we’re keen to see a range of photograph­s that show off the spectacle of the big universe out there.”

The winners will be revealed during the National Park’s Dark Skies Festival in February 2022.

Details of the festival will be announced at a later date.

Details of the Dark Sky Discovery Sites can be found at www.southdowns.gov.uk/darknight-skies/where-to-stargaze.

These locations are free from the effects of urban light pollution, offer good public access and great sightlines to explore the wonders of the night sky.

For entry details and to download an applicatio­n form visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/ AstroPhoto­Comp

The deadline for competitio­n entries is midnight on January 12, 2022.

 ?? ?? The Milky Way from Cissbury Ring, in West Sussex, by Neil Jones – Winner of South Downs Dark Skyscapes in last year’s competitio­n
The Milky Way from Cissbury Ring, in West Sussex, by Neil Jones – Winner of South Downs Dark Skyscapes in last year’s competitio­n
 ?? ?? Milky Way at Birling Gap by John Fox
Milky Way at Birling Gap by John Fox
 ?? ?? The Theory of Everything taken at Iping Common in West Sussex by Ismail Mungul
The Theory of Everything taken at Iping Common in West Sussex by Ismail Mungul
 ?? ?? St Hubert’s Church in Hampshire and the Comet Neowise by Paul Rogers
St Hubert’s Church in Hampshire and the Comet Neowise by Paul Rogers

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