About the candidates

Anyone is eligible to enter the contest with the exception of current members of the staff and Board of Directors of DarkSky International. For the ‘Youth’ category only, candidates must be 17 or younger at the time of submission and confirm they have permission to enter from a parent/guardian. The contest is free to enter. No purchase is necessary.

Technical specifications for submitted photos

The photo(s) must be submitted as a high-resolution JPEG (as high as your camera will allow) no larger than 50MB. 

The photo(s) must not contain violence, profanity, sex or direct attacks on individuals or organizations. Any entries deemed offensive will be immediately disqualified. 

All photos should follow ethical night sky and wildlife photography practices. Images that inappropriately add artificial light at night (such as light painting, shining white light towards the sky, etc.) will not be considered. 

Images must be taken legally, adhering to local access regulations such as nighttime closures or restrictions.

The participant must certify and warrant that the submitted photo(s) does not violate the rights of a third party or any copyright. The DarkSky International is not responsible for intellectual property violations that might have resulted through the submissions of photos.

The following images are ALLOWED: 

Single exposure: The image is a single exposure—the camera triggered only once to acquire the image. The image is a single light frame. 

Blend: A digital combination of several images taken from the same tripod position, during the same night, with the same shooting direction and focal length.

This includes:

  • Foregrounds captured during the blue hour/with moonlight, combined with a sky captured during astronomical night/without the moon in the sky

  • Focus stacks for an increased depth of field

  • Tracked skies, blended with untracked foregrounds. In this case, small movement of the tripod position (i.e. to the backside of a foreground feature, to avoid too much blur in the tracked sky image) is acceptable but must be stated

  • Stacked: Noise reduction by stacking multiple images taken in immediate succession and with exactly the same settings, focal point, and length, field of view, and tripod position

Tracked: A tracking mount was used to capture the sky. These devices rotate the camera to counter earth rotation and thus allow longer exposures without producing trailed stars. Tracked & Blended images are allowed if they were both taken using the same tripod position as stated above. 

Panorama: Multiple images stitched to produce a larger field of view. The individual images must be taken during the same night, from the same tripod position, and at the same focal length.

The following images are NOT ALLOWED


  • Images merged together from different tripod positions/locations or with different viewing directions

  • Images merged together taken during different nights*

  • Images merged together with different focal lengths

  • Images merged together with daylight foregrounds and night skies

*Note: There is an exception to this rule for the Deep Sky category only.

Judging and notification of selected photographers

After the contest entries closes at 5:59 AM UTC on June 30th, 2023, qualifying photos will be judged on connection to the category, technical skill, composition, and “wow factor”. The DarkSky International has appointed a panel to judge the entries. The judges’ decision is final. Any attempt by a participant to influence the result or subvert the photo competition will lead to immediate disqualification.

The winning photos will be announced by August 8th and the photographers will be notified by e-mail.

If an entrant is unable to be contacted after reasonable attempts have been made to do so, DarkSky International reserves the right to offer the prize to the next best entry.

Rights and ownership

Entrants must be the sole and exclusive author and owner of the photograph and have the full and exclusive right, power, and authority to submit the photograph to DarkSky International’s Capture the Dark Photography Contest.

By submitting their photos to the DarkSky International, participants maintain their ownership of the photos.

Participants who opt in grant DarkSky International free of charge the perpetual, non-exclusive right to use the photo in any manner and media, including without limitation, the right to publish, adapt, distribute, copy, display or translate in printed or electronic media, even if they are not the winning entries. DarkSky International shall make every effort to  mention the full name of the photographers of winning entries whenever possible.  However, the failure of the DarkSky International to do so shall not be a breach of this agreement and does not affect any other rights.


DarkSky International reserves the right to modify or cancel the contest or any of the arrangements, schedules, plans or other items directly or indirectly related to the contest, at any time and for any reason if deems necessary.

The personal information provided to DarkSky International by the participants shall only be used for the purposes of this contest. All participants are entitled to access, cancel, oppose and rectify the details about the personal data (such as names, addresses, etc.) contained in the file by sending their request by email to

Participation in the contest in no manner constitutes an endorsement or support by DarkSky International of the candidates’ views or aims or of any products or services. Candidates shall not advertise or otherwise claim to have obtained any such endorsement or support. DarkSky International name and logo are the property of the DarkSky International and should not be used in any manner whatsoever without the prior consent of DarkSky International. 

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