Michael Sidonio is one of the most recognised personalities in Australian astronomy and astroimaging and due to his background, is known to many as “Strongmanmike”.
An amateur astronomer for 40 years, Michael studied astronomy at Dickson College in Canberra, Australia, and went on to work at the Canberra Observatory as a public outreach officer, a position he held for over a decade.
Between 1995 and 2005, Michael was one of Australia’s premier strength athletes, representing Australia at the highest level in the extreme sport of strongman competitions, setting numerous records, including, being the first person to pull a B-Double road train (27 Ton). Then, in 2001 Michael set a World Record, when he carried two 160kg suitcases, a distance of 51m, resulting in his undisputed title, as the World’s Strongest Astronomer! However, after retiring from this fun but gruelling sport in 2005, Michael was able to, once again, focus on astronomy and astrophotography.
Michael has worked with and developed many forms of the science & art form in capturing the deep sky, including building his own specialised sensitive cameras and telescope equipment. Michael’s world class astrophotography has featured regularly in well-known astronomy periodicals, both nationally and internationally and has appeared in various public exhibitions, all around the World, including in London, Edinburgh, Zagreb, La Palma, Sydney and even in Fort Davis Texas, USA.
Michael’s list of imaging awards is formidable and having won his first astrophotography award, as a teenager, spans the best part of 40 years. Michael’s work has featured on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day, in a documentary on the History Channel and even on a record album cover. Michael has multiple David Malin Awards and has been rewarded with an incredible, thirteen, South Pacific Star Party Astro Awards. His works have also finished on the podium in the Sky Telescope Magazine Beautiful Universe imaging contest, The Royal Observatory Greenwich Astronomy Photographer of the Year Awards, the AAGC Astrophotography awards and the prestigious, Eureka Prize for Science Photography, the most coveted prize in Australian scientific imaging.
Michael’s dedication to deep sky imaging has also resulted in him making two unique contributions to astronomy research, including discovering a galaxy, 11 million light years away from the Earth in the constellation of Sculptor.
Finally, and representing the highest level of recognition for an astrophotographer in Australia, Michael’s work was chosen to hang in Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre in Canberra, where a large permanent reproduction of his Eureka Prize winning image of Orion’s Sword (Available through Astrography) is on show to some half a Million visitors a year.
Recently Michael has completed the construction of his new observatory, which at 1450m above sea level, holds the title of the highest astronomical observatory in Australia. The new observatory is located high in the Tinderry Mountains, a little over an hour’s drive south of the nation’s Capital city of Canberra. Under the World class, clean, dark skies, enjoyed at this new elevated location, Michael plans to continue to image our amazing Universe, determined to capture more beautiful images but with even better clarity.