Martin Pugh Astrophotography - Biography


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Martin Pugh

At 16 years of age, Martin Pugh left his home town of Dudley in the West Midlands (UK) to join the Royal Navy as a Junior Radio Operator.    While he spent many nights staring into pitch-black mid-ocean skies using a pair of binoculars, his Naval career simply did not allow for any further pursuit in astronomy.  For 20 years, he moved between ships and establishments and in the late 90’s, together with the overwhelming appearance of Comet Hale Bopp in 1997, he became increasingly interested in the idea of observing and imaging. Then in 1999, he spent his first evening looking through a dusty old 3” refractor recovered from his brother-in-law’s loft, and instantly became fixated with the idea of owning his own telescope, with the possible addition of a CCD camera.

A few months later, Martin purchased an 8” Meade LX200, and a couple of months after that, a Starlight Express HX516.  Learning and practicing continued and he purchased just about every astrophotography book available on the market at the time.

The next major equipment upgrade occurred in 2004 prior to emigrating to Australia, yet through various reasons he was yet to take a deep-sky image. This new equipment was briefly used in Portugal in early 2004, before it was packed up and sent to Australia where it did not re-emerge again until mid 2005 when at long last, Martin had built a roll-off roof observatory on his property in Yass, New South Wales.  

Finally, under great skies and with a static observatory in place, Martin was able to put all of the theory into practice and secured his first NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day on 1 Jun 2006, a collaborative effort with Rob Gendler.  Since then, Martin has secured 43 APODs (3 collaboratively with Rob Gendler, and 4 using Hubble Legacy Archive data).  In addition, he has been placed in the following competitions:


·        2008 - South Pacific Star Party – Winner

·        2008 - The David Malin Awards – Deep Sky and overall competition winner.

·        2009 – Astronomy Photographer of Year (Royal Observatory Greenwich) – Deep Sky and overall competition winner.

·        2010 - Astronomy Photographer of Year (Royal Observatory Greenwich) – Runner- up - Deep Sky.

·        2011 – The David Malin Awards – Deep Sky winner.

·        2012 – Astronomy Photographer of the Year (Royal Observatory Greenwich) – Deep Sky and overall competition winner.

·        2013 - The David Malin Awards – Deep Sky and overall competition winner.

In addition, his images have appeared in Australian Sky and Telescope (several times), Astronomie (France), The Boston Globe, US Sky and Telescope, as part of a Celestial Navigation DVD for the Royal Australian Navy, Explorations: An introduction to Astronomy, Astrophoto Insight, as part of a video release of NGC 3603 by Hubble, books (Deep-Sky Wonders  - Sky and Telescope), Treasures of the Southern Sky - Gendler), (Beautiful Universe  - Sky and Telescope), (21st Century Astronomy: Stars and Galaxies – Cover), (Starfinder), (Explorations: An introduction to Astronomy), (Pathways to Astronomy), several other recent Astronomy related text books and several occasional articles and lecture pieces.  There are also a few ‘crowning moments’ of note, particularly:

  • The release of a 3-stamp collectors set by Australia Post, to mark the 2009 International Year of Astronomy, which featured Martin’s image of M78.
  • Recognition and placement in the SBIG Hall of Fame.
  •  Placement of two images (M27 and IC434) in ‘Starstruck’ The Art of Astrophotography exhibition (Bates College Museum of Art).