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December 6, 2012
LCDR Martin Pugh's passion for the
stars and galaxies far away has led to
worldwide recognition for taking pho-
tographs that change the way people
see the universe.
The renowned amateur astrophotographer
has won the prestigious Royal Observatory
Astronomy Photographer of the Year award
for an unprecedented second time.
LCDR Pugh was announced the 2012 win-
ner by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich,
UK, on September 19, having taken out the
inaugural competition in 2009.
His incredible image of the M51 Whirlpool
Galaxy drew lavish praise from the panel of
10 international judges and beat more than
800 entries from around the world to win the
Deep Space and Overall categories.
LCDR Pugh said it was incredible to win
the event for a second time.
"It's an international competition, with a
panel of expert judges including Sir Patrick
Moore (a renowned UK astronomer) and they
take all sorts of information into consideration
when judging; picture composition, technical/
colour accuracy, and processing techniques as
well," LCDR Pugh said.
"The standard of entries is phenomenal, so
to win it twice is absolutely amazing."
The Canberra-based project manager for
Project 2089 -- Tactical Data Links, has built
two observatories since laterally transferring
from the RN in 2004 -- one at his home in Yass
and the other in California, which he controls
remotely with his iPad.
"The equipment I'm using has to go into
an observatory because it's too big and com-
plex to put into the back of your car to drive
out to a dark site," LCDR Pugh said.
"Quite often at home I monitor the US
system on one of my large monitors and the
Australian system on another and when away
from home, I drive the Californian system
remotely with an iPad."
LCDR Pugh said from early on he knew he
had a great image.
"Because the system I have in California
is operating under such perfect conditions I
Pugh has won
award for the
LSIS Paul Berry
decided to acquire what we term as a 'really
deep' image, which means getting 30-40 hours
exposure," he said.
"I put that image together over three nights
and the result was outstanding."
Competition judge Will Gator said the
image was arguably one of the finest images
of M51 ever taken by an amateur photogra-
"It's not just the detail in the spiral arms
of the galaxy that's remarkable -- look closely
and you'll see many, very distant, galaxies in
the background too," Mr Gator said.
LCDR Pugh said configuring up to 10 soft-
ware programs to work together to record the
image data was challenging.
"The other part is the technical skill in pro-
ducing the final image, which of course wins
the prizes at the end of the day," he said.
"There are 1000 things that can go wrong,
but that's what I like about it."
SHINING STAR: LCDR Martin Pugh looks to the stars at Russell Offices in Canberra. Top right,
LCDR Pugh's winning photograph of the M51 Whirlpool Galaxy.
Photo: LSIS Paul Berry
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