Martin Pugh’s interest in astronomy coincided with the overwhelming appearance of Comet Hale Bopp in 1997. However, he did not purchase his first telescope and specialist camera until 1999. Inspired by the handful of amateur astrophotographers around at the time, learning and practicing this art form continued over the next few years until the next major equipment upgrade occurred in 2004; just prior to emigrating to Australia.
Then, under dark skies and with his own roll-off roof observatory at his rural property in Yass, astrophotography began in earnest. Martin was able to put all of the theory into practice and secured his first NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) (collaboratively with Robert Gendler) on 1 Jun 2006. Since then, Martin has secured 70 APODs. 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.
Furthermore, his images have appeared in many science publications, magazines, and videos all over the world and more recently one of his images was also used to create the special effects in the blockbuster movie ‘Interstellar’.
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).
After 39 years of Naval Service, Martin has now retired and established his own remote imaging, data subscription and telescope hosting business from his home in rural Australia.