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It seems fitting that it was a photograph that led to Andy Davey becoming an exhibition curator a photograph he thought others might like enough to buy.

Mr Davey started the Winterstellar Exhibition and Astrophotography Competition in 2020 and was elected chairman of the Winterstellar Charitable Trust when it was founded in November last year.

He said he was attracted to night-sky photography because it displayed familiar places in a different way.

“Because the camera is open for 30 seconds, you are seeing things that aren’t apparent to the naked eye,” he said.

He had taken a night-sky photograph of Mitchell’s Cottage in Fruitlands, and approached Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery to see if they might sell copies there.

Unintended consequences . . . Andy Davey’s photographic of the historic Mitchell’s Cottge has led him to setting up exhibitions, competitions and a charitable trust. PHOTO: ANDY DAVEY

“They asked me if I’d like to curate an exhibition of astrophotography,” he said.

“First, I had to Google ‘curate’.”

After two successful exhibitions, the trust was created to foster a greater appreciation of the night sky through astrophotography and other arts and sciences, a better understanding of Maori maatauranga (knowledge), including Matariki, and to promote the benefits of the dark skies of Otago and Southland.

That final objective led to another accidental role for Mr Davey, that of tour guide on night-sky cycle tours.

A “proof of concept” ride took place last month from Lauder to Poolburn Gorge, with Mr Davey and fellow Winterstellar trustee, astronomer Prof Brian Boyle; professional photographer and adventure tourism operator Simon Williams and Tourism Central Otago’s digital marketing officer Antz Longman.

The object was to test the feasibility of guided astronomy/cycle tours in Central Otago and the group was joined by a couple they met on the cycle trail.

Once at Poolburn Viaduct, Prof Boyle gave a half-hour masterclass on the southern night sky.

Mr Davey said such tours were viable but there was only a short window during spring and autumn.

He planned to begin tours this spring, “choosing the optimal times for the moon and the weather”.

The winner of the 2022 Winterstellar Astrophotography Competition will be announced at the exhibition opening in Alexandra on June 17.

Winning entries and works by invited photographers will be exhibited at Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery in Alexandra from June 18 to August 28 and at Lakes District Museum and Art Gallery in Arrowtown from July 23 to August 31.