Galilean Nights astrophotography competition launched at Europlanet Congress (EPSC09/13)
September 17, 2009

Galilean Nights astrophotography competition launched at Europlanet Congress

An astrophotograpy competition is being launched as part of Galilean Nights, the latest Cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) that will see thousands of public observing events around the world replicating Galileo’s observations and bringing what he saw 400 years ago to the public of today.

Stunning images of distant objects in the Universe are well known around the world and do more to bring astronomy to the wider public and to inspire future astronomers than words ever could. The public has been set the challenge of capturing the inspirational nature of our local solar neighbourhood in the worldwide Galilean Nights photography competition. Run in partnership with Europlanet, the Galilean Nights competition encourages anybody with an enthusiasm for astronomy to try a different approach to their observations and create their own inspirational photographs of our planetary neighbours. The contest is being officially launched today during Europlanet’s European Planetary Science Congress, held this year in Potsdam, Germany.

IYA2009 Executive Committee Chair, Catherine Cesarsky says, “Amateur observations have always played an important role in astronomy, a fact highlighted by one of the most exciting events of this year when it was an amateur astronomer who noticed that Jupiter had suffered a massive impact by an asteroid or comet. So it is fitting that Galilean Nights continues this tradition as thousands of amateur astronomers and the public will turn their attention to Jupiter and other objects that Galileo observed 400 years ago.”

The Galilean Nights astrophotography competition consists of two categories, “Earth and Sky” and “Beyond Earth” and is open for entries from 17 September 2009 until 27 October 2009.

“Earth and Sky” highlights the link between the Earth and our astronomical neighbourhood. Entries to this category must show part of the surface of the Earth with one or more of the Galilean Objects in the sky above. You can include any aspect of Earth: sweeping landscapes, buildings or even people. Use of a telescope is not permitted in this category.

“Beyond Earth” gets closer to those far off astronomical objects. Entries to this category must show one or more of the Galilean Objects, but not show any aspect of the Earth. Use of a telescope up to 20cm (or 8 inches) is permitted in this category.

In each category, there will be one winner, one runner-up and one highly commended entry selected by the judges. The prize for the winners will be a Celestron SkyScout, provided by the European Space Agency. Runners up will receive an iPod Touch player with Star Walk software, provided by Vito Technology and highly commended entries receive a Sky Atlas, contributed by Sky and Telescope magazine.

Photographs must be taken between the competition opening and closing dates. Entries must be uploaded to the Galilean Nights Flickr group at by 27 October 2009, 23:59 hrs GMT/UT, with Flickr tags: “competition” and “earthandsky” or “beyondearth”.

For full details of the competition, see:


Galilean Nights
From 22 to 24 October, amateur and professional astronomers, science centres, schools and all interested groups are invited to be part of the Galilean Nights project and to register their events on the project website We can all make this a worldwide success.

The Galilean Nights builds on the unprecedented success of April’s 100 Hours of Astronomy, another IYA2009 Cornerstone project. Over three nights amateur and professional astronomers, and enthusiasts, will share their knowledge and enthusiasm for the Universe by encouraging as many people as possible to look through a telescope at our neighbouring planets. The focus for the Galilean Nights is on the observations made by the Italian astronomer Galileo 400 years ago, including those of Jupiter and the Moon, which will be well-positioned in the night sky for observing during the event. For many members of the public it will be their first look through a telescope, when they can see such breathtaking sights such as the cloud bands of the gas giant, Jupiter, and intricate details on our cratered Moon. It will be an unforgettable experience.

Anyone, from any background and with any level of experience is encouraged to organise events, from one person sharing the night sky through a telescope with a small group of neighbours and friends, to large astronomical groups holding major observing sessions in public areas. To keep track of developments, assist with promotion and to help people to find local Galilean Nights activities, all events should be registered on the project website:

European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2009
EPSC 2009 is organised by Europlanet, a Research Infrastructure funded under the European Commission’s Framework 7 Programme, in association with the European Geosciences Union. It is the major meeting in Europe for planetary scientists. The programme comprises 37 sessions and workshops covering a wide range of planetary topics.
EPSC 2009 is taking place at the Kongresshotel am Templiner See, Potsdam, Germany from Sunday 13 September to Friday 18 September 2009.
For further details, see the meeting website:

Europlanet Research Infrastructure (RI)
Europlanet RI is a major (€6 million) programme co-funded by the European Union under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission.
Europlanet RI brings together the European planetary science community through a range of Networking Activities, aimed at fostering a culture of cooperation in the field of planetary sciences, Transnational Access Activities, providing European researchers with access to a range of laboratory and field site facilities tailored to the needs of planetary research, as well as on-line access to the available planetary science data, information and software tools, through the Integrated and Distributed Information Service.   These programmes are underpinned by Joint Research Activities, which are developing and improving the facilities, models, software tools and services offered by Europlanet.
Europlanet Project website:
Europlanet Outreach and Media website: