Australian photographer awarded prestigious Swedish prize
David Malin, photographic scientist and astronomer at the Anglo-Australian Observatory (now the Australian Astronomical Observatory, AAO) and Adjunct Professor of Scientific Photography at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has been awarded one of photography's most prestigious prizes, the year 2000 Lennart Nilsson Award. The award, which carries a prize of 100,000 Swedish crowns, was made in recognition of Professor Malin's achievements in the field of astronomical photography.
The prize will be awarded at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm on October 20. This organisation is responsible for awarding the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Prof. Malin has been invited to present a special lecture at the Nobel Forum at the Institute on the day before he receives his award.
The prize is named for Lennart Nilsson, world-renown scientific photographer whose stunning and controversial images of the human fetus in utero appeared as a photo-essay in the pages of Life magazine some years ago. The winner is selected annually by an international committee and the award recognises individuals whose work uncovers some aspect of the natural world that is normally hidden from view.
After a career in England using microscopes to explore the very small, Malin turned his attention to larger and more distant things when he joined the AAO in 1975. He has made his reputation by revealing hidden features of galaxies and nebulae. Most of his pictures are made from plates taken with the telescopes of the Anglo-Australian Observatory which are located on Siding Spring Mountain near Coonabarabran, in outback New South Wales, Australia.
Using special techniques he has devloped himself, Malin has discovered two completely new types of galaxies, one of them (Malin-1) is among the most massive galaxies ever found, 20 times the size of the Milky Way, itself a large galaxy. After 14 years of intensive searching only three more of these faint and elusive galaxies has been found. The photographic technique used for this discovery has been dubbed "malinisation". The same process uncovered what are now known as "Malin-Carter" shell galaxies, fuzzy, featureless elliptical galaxies, but with unexpected, sharp-edged, extremely faint features associated with them. These are believed to be the ancient signatures of galaxy mergers that took place billions of years ago. David Malin also has an asteroid named for him.
David Malin's best known images are the colour pictures he has made using these and related photographic techniques. These images have been widely published and exhibited and are some of the finest wide-field, deep-sky colour photographs available. David Malin has published over 120 scientific papers on astronomy and photography and a similar number of articles in popular journals in his 25 years with the AAO. He has also authored or co-authored seven books and his photographic exhibitions are touring art galleries around the world, with recent openings in Campbelltown, (Australia), Lund, (Sweden) and another in Newark, New Jersey in October.
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