David Malin


If you want to be awed by the colours and patterns of the night sky then you could do no better than to watch a video called "The Man Who Colors Stars" which is all about the work of David Malin. This world-famous astrophotographer has dedicated himself to studying the stars using the tool of photography. His contributions to photographic science and astronomy have received international recognition, and led to him being awarded two honorary degrees from Australian universities.

Until July 2001, he was a photographic scientist-astronomer working at the Anglo-Australian Observatory (AAO). There he developed hypersensitising processes which can greatly increase a photographic material's sensitivity to faint light. He also invented new ways of revealing information on astronomical plates, a speciality which has given him an international reputation. In October 2000 he was presented with the Lennart Nilson Award which recognises "extraordinary image makers in science".

His novel image enhancement techniques quickly led to the discovery of two new types of galaxy. Malin-Carter 'shell' galaxies have low contrast but large-scale features associated with otherwise normal galaxies, while in 1987 he discovered an extremely faint, uniquely massive 'proto-galaxy' which has since been named Malin-1. These are some of the faintest objects ever detected by an ground-based telescope and are the result of a photographic process that has been dubbed 'Malinisation'. Their discovery represented a significant advance in photographic astronomy, as well as being a major contribution to research on galaxies.

He retired from the AAO to run his own business, David Malin Images (DMI). You can visit his webpages at www.davidmalin.com. Essentially this showcases his AAO image collection but he has also included (on a separate website) the work of two other splendid photographers, Akira Fujii who specialises in wide field constellation pictures, and David Miller, whose night-time landscapes are unique. The site also includes some of his own optical photo-micrographs, from his previous career as a chemist.

David Malin has published over 120 scientific papers and a similar number of popular articles on astronomy and photography, as well as seven books. "The Invisible Universe" is a large format celebration of the beauty of the night sky, a subject increasing explored in his gallery exhibitions. He was also scientific advisor for "Heaven and Earth" a profusely illustrated work that uses scientific pictures to explore all scales from the atomic to the cosmic. He is also a well- known and entertaining lecturer on these and related topics. Apart from the public appearances he also has a series of travelling photographic exhibitions and increasingly, exhibitions in art galleries (as opposed to science museums). If you get the chance go along and see for yourself some of the wonders of the Universe.