Meet Astro-Photographer Dylan O'Donnell

February 16, 2018 4 min read

Meet Astro-Photographer Dylan O'Donnell

Dylan O'Donnell with his sons in his backyard observatoryAstro-photgrapher Dylan O'Donnellthe-mighty-andromedaZenon and his DadLuminous Super MoonZach in the observatoryHead for the hills and stargazeZenon wears the Simple Livin TeeThe Horsehead NebulaDylan and ZachMilky Way over Tallows, Byron Bay European Space Agency - Deep Space Tracking Station, Western AustraliaBackyard Astronomer Byron BayZach in his Dad's observatoryDylan's astro selfiem45 Pleiades Seven SistersO'Donnell Boys

When Dylan O’Donnell got to the point where his telescope was bigger then himself, he built an observatory in his backyard, as you do! After falling hard for a love of Astro Photography, this Byron Bay dad of two spends his time camping out at star parties and capturing awe-inspiring photos of space. When one photo was reposted by the International Space Station, Dylan’s profile skyrocketed so we jumped at the chance to chat to him about his interstellar world, the traits he’d like his boys to inherit and the most surprising thing about fatherhood.

When did you get into Astro-Photography?
About 4 years I walked into a shop and walked out with a small telescope. Something definitely clicked because I became super-absorbed with the whole thing. It’s pretty broad too, it’s not just about telescopes but also regular cameras and wide Milky-Way work, or even just being a “space tourist” and going camping at star parties, visiting NASA and the space shuttles or launch sites or looking at meteorites at your local museum. I nerded out pretty hard. I still do.

You are a busy man, web builder, Astro photographer and father of 2 boys, how do you find the juggle?
Easy - don’t watch TV. I recommend disconnecting it to anyone. When you become a parent your “alone” time becomes suddenly scarce and precious. Thankfully I’m one of those people who doesn’t sleep a lot either, so my nights became my time without taking anything away from family time.

You have had an image reposted by the Astronaut in the International Space Station (ISS) how was that moment?
I didn’t realise a single image could go viral the way it did so it really took me by surprise. What I captured wasn’t particularly rare, the ISS crossing the disc of the moon - it happens every day somewhere - but the image resonated with a great many people and was quickly circulated around the world. The fact that Commander Chris Hadfield even knows who I am has done wonders for my increasingly oversized ego.

International Space Station crossing the moon by Dylan O'Donnell

You recently built your own dome shaped kit observatory in the back yard can you tell us about that?
There comes a point when your telescope is bigger than you and doesn’t deserve to be locked away in a closet. So when that time came, I poured a concrete slab and put up a dome or pod style observatory in the backyard which I suppose could be referred to as my “man-cave” in lieu of a proper blokey shed, but I like to call Byron Bay Observatory .. the easternmost observatory in Australia. Technically.

You have two sons; 6 year old Zenon, and 2 year old Zach. What has been the most surprising thing about becoming a Dad?
As the father of boys, I’m surprised the human race has made it as far as it has given the kids propensity for innocent, but persistent self destruction. I have been accidentally whacked in the nuts many more times in the few years since fatherhood than the decades that preceded it. Zen broke his collarbone once, all by himself, dancing alone with no obstacles, just the floor. And that’s not to mention the day to day scrapes and bumps. I can see why some parents become helicopters, but it’s a fools errand - they will find a way.

Which of your characteristics would you most like your children to inherit?
I come from a long male line of rebels and anti-authoritarians. If there’s one trait my kids will hopefully get from me, it’s learning to suppress the urge to overthrow the government and channel that energy into something that won’t attract the attentions of the authorities.

Also a love of macaroni cheese. It’s a very underrated dish in the country and deserves more respect and attention.

Here Dylan lets Children of the Tribe into his world by finishing these sentences...

I up on my dreams of being a pro surfer. Or even a surfer really. Let’s be honest.

I’m always inspired by... my wife Anna. How has she put up with me for this long? I don’t believe in religion but it’s a legit miracle I’m still shacked up with such an amazing woman.

Outer space is...not empty. It’s full. Why is it even called space?

My favourite planet would have to be... Jupiter. And I will fight to the death anyone who believes otherwise.

The best view is... off the Eastern Cape of Australia at night on a moonless night in winter, looking into the inescapable void.

Colour is... a tiny fraction of the entire electromagnetic spectrum that we can see with our puny human eyes.

Peace begins with... the letter P. Except in Botswana, where it begins with U.



To see more space stuff or get in touch with Dylan:
Insta for space stuff : @dylan_odonnell_
Insta for dad stuff : @erfmufn
Website :
YouTube :


{Zach wears The Hills tee and Voyage shorts, Zenon wears Simple Living Muscle Tee and Voyage Drawstring shorts. Shop now}

Zenon lightplayZenon wears the Simple Livin' Muscle Tee and Zach wears the Hills TeeByron Bay Lighthouse