Celestron astrophotography contest starts today!

By Phil Plait | October 1, 2010 7:11 am

I’m very pleased to announce that once again, Discover Magazine and the venerable telescope company Celestron have teamed up for the Capture the Universe astrophotography contest!


The rules are pretty simple. Just like last year, you have to register on the Celestron images website, read the rules, and then enter your picture(s). An important caveat: at least one piece of equipment you use must have Celestron optics.

celestron_winner2009Once again, my mind control beam has worked perfectly: Discover Magazine and Celestron picked me to judge the entries. I won’t tell you outright what might win and what might not, but like last year, I’m looking for beautiful images, interesting images, out-of-the-ordinary images. For example, the picture to the left won last year because it was such a cool idea – the photographer took a picture of every planet in the solar system (except Earth, and, for you diehards, Pluto) and the Sun all in the same 24 hour period, then put them together in this montage. You can also check out the other images from last year, too. They’re all really amazing shots.


The contest prizes are very nice: a Celestron Nexstar 8SE telescope (retail value: $1199) for the Grand Prize, an Axiom LX31 eyepiece ($399) for the Runner Up, and a 50th Anniversary First Scope ($70) for the Viewers’ Choice picture.

The contest starts TODAY, October 1, 2010 and ends on October 30, 2010. So get out there and start snapping.

Clear skies, everyone!


Comments (18)

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  1. Messier Tidy Upper

    Great image & good to see you get a big wrap there too, BA – “Phil’s Picks” even – nice! :-)

    ..the picture to the left won last year because it was such a cool idea – the photographer took a picture of every planet in the solar system (except Earth, and, for you diehards, Pluto) and the Sun all in the same 24 hour period, then put them together in this montage.

    Yeah, that *is* an awesome, excellent image there. Yay & thanks for remembering us Pluto diehards too! 😉

    On the not-so great side I see that the contest is for US residents only. Sigh. :-(

    Not that I could’ve taken part anyhow as I lack the equipment & money to be an astrophotographer. I’m just too poor to do more than enjoy the awesome work of those that do have the gear and cash to do it. I absolutely love them for it even if I am a bit envious of them too. 😉

  2. Celestron OPTICS or just Celestron equipment? I use a Celestron GEM, but I don’t like their optics :)

  3. Michel

    Good! Today I ripped apart an old Logitech webcam to try on my HUmBBLE little 130SLT.
    Only need to rip the Celestron 25 mm eyepiece apart (I´ve got better ones) to make an adapter.
    Let´s see where this adventure will take me…

  4. I love this contest, it tuns out some of the coolest images.


  5. bigjohn756

    Well, I do have a pair of Celestron 15×70 binoculars. Maybe I could attach a camera to one side and get some pics. Built in tracking ‘scope, too.

  6. Grand Lunar

    Unfortunately, I only have a Tasco.
    Delivers nice images of the moon, fair ones of planets.
    Being in the light polluted suburbs of Fort Lauderdale doesn’t help either.

    Also, I lack devices for astrophotography. Too bad too, since tonight was a nice night for Jupiter. Even though we’re past opposition, it still looks larger than I remember ever seeing it. But that may be a pychological effect…

  7. Maak

    One problem, the person who wins the contest will more than likely have better telescope gear than awarded by the contest.

  8. Jim

    Like Maak says, the winner will probably not need the prized equipment. There is some poor kid out there (me 30 years ago) that is full of dreams to photograph the sky. How do we get him/her a telescope!

    As for the contest, my Meade and Pentax equipment fail to qualify. Good luck to all the Celestron owners.

  9. @Maak: That’s true, but you could resell it for cash or do a tax deductible donation to your local club.

  10. Blake

    This contest is rigged. I was in #1 and then my entry was deleted by “Admin” and I got no explanation.

  11. John Cave

    Hi All,
    Just to say “Hi” from the UK.
    These competitions are great and I enjoy seeing the entries submitted. It is just a shame that entries from around the globe are not allowed, we would see some amazing images then! It is a shame too because we can buy Celestron over in the UK but cannot enter the contest.
    Best of luck to you all and I look forward to seeing the winners soon!!

  12. John

    A suggestion to those without any Celestron optics… buy a Celestron barlow and throw it in between your scope and imager! Then you’d qualify. Or… to make it even simpler, how about a filter????? Or are they just considered “accessories” and not “equipment with optics”????

  13. Mike

    Hello All: The photo that won last year is a nice — but clearly taken by a professional with a significant piece of equipment to take photos of Pluto!! How can anyone compete with that??

    I have a Celestron 114GT. It does good shots of the moon and can see the ring (not rings) of saturn. So, with my equipment I logically cannot compete to get a much needed upgrade to the awesome 8SE. I doubt the guy last year needed to get a top-of-the-line equipment if he/she could take a photo of Pluto.

    Oh yeah, forgot to mention I am in Canada so it is impossible for me to apply since this is open to US residence.

    Wishing you all clear skies.. (and I am hoping for some changes to the rules of this contest in the future)

  14. Crash2Parties

    I’m afraid this truly is another ill-conceived contest from another marketing department that just doesn’t get it. So far, all but one of the top-rated photos were taken with equipment more expensive than the top prize offered indicating this is just about bragging rights, not Celestron’s fine optics. The one remaining used a Celestron motorized tripod. How exactly is this going to foster interest in Celestron’s products? The winners will either already have equipment far better than what Celestron is offering or will have shunned C’s products adding something with their logo simply to qualify. I agree with the others that there is no reason for me to even enter, much less get enthused about this contest.

    Note to Celestron: You make starter scopes, binocs, and some really nice rigs; next time, split the contest into tiers with prizes appropriate to each. Also, for the top tier since winning is more a matter of ego, offer a dual prize: your top of the line scope + a handful of starter scopes or binocs to be given to the winners favorite astro club outreach for kids. THAT is where your future market for the top o’ the line stuff will be found.

    Why do I get the feeling most of today’s Marketing wizards skipped out on those required psychology, business and other courses that would have at least given them the basic tools needed to enthuse buyers effectively?

  15. Starhopper

    Well written, but the glass is always half empty – if you choose to see it that way! It’s an astrophotography contest. Get your gear together, whatever it may be.. and take the best picture you possibly can! That’s all. A true contest. Show and share the wonders of space..whether it be a super megapixel Hi-Res stacked image, or a blurry single shot of a star – it all goes up to be considered. It’s not an enthuse the jaded contest. No one runs those, just can’t be done…pointless. 😉

    Also, go and buy you that big scope and nice camera you’re lacking, the one that made you think of all this cynical nonsense…when all it’s really about is great photos.

    There is no crime in wanting to win more gear, no matter what you already may already own. Why should there be? Besides, the 8se is a fine scope, and a great addition to any backyard. Who wouldn’t want to win it?
    Nevermind..I don’t want to know.

  16. Astrolarry

    So.. who won? You have to love Celestron’s commitment to these contests… it’s been over for over 2 weeks now and the link to this page is the only sign that the contest ever existed.


  17. Astrolarry (16): That’s not Celestron’s fault, it’s mine. I’ve been very busy and haven’t had time to go over the entries yet. It’s at the top of my To Do list for this week.


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