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Eyes on the stars, teenager clinches top prize with photo

China Daily | Updated: 2021-11-23


Wang takes photos from the balcony of his home in Yongtai county, Fujian province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Wang developed an interest in astronomy after reading about the subject as a child. He discovered what he could on the internet and learned from other amateur astronomers on QQ.

During his second year at middle school, he felt he had to do something with his interest. "I wanted to see the universe with my own eyes and record it with my hands. Until I could do that, I was always anxious," he said.

He used a secondhand Celestron 80DX telescope, made in the United States, that his parents had given him. "The first time I used it, I saw the moon. It was spectacular. I was thrilled!" he said, adding that his obsession began right then.

Sometimes, he would be so immersed in his observations that he wouldn't go downstairs to fetch a coat, even in the middle of winter.

Other times, he stood for hours under the blazing sun to get the perfect shot. But for Wang, none of that mattered.

He entered the competition in February. At the time, he was not yet 16. "I saw photos taken by other photographers in the Young Competition category, and some looked similar to mine, so I thought, why not try?" he said.

His parents didn't know until after he'd won. In addition to the prestige, Wang's biggest bonus is the 1,500 pound ($2,023) prize money, which will allow him to buy a new camera. "I will keep on. Astronomy will be a lifelong hobby. It would be great if I could help popularize science in the future, or become an astronomy teacher," he said.

His father, Wang Guofeng, said that he was happy his son had won the prize and said the family fully supports his hobby. After his son took the high school entrance examination, Wang Guofeng bought him a new astronomical telescope, which cost around 10,000 yuan ($1,563).

Both of Wang's parents are teachers. "My wife and I agree that we should support him in whatever he chooses. It may influence his studies, but I'm not worried," his father said, adding that they expect him to attend a top university and select a major he likes. "After all, interest is the best teacher."

Bao Rihui, Wang's head teacher, said that after hearing the boy had won such a big prize, many students were inspired to develop an interest in astronomy.

"The geography, physics and information technology teachers have all offered the astronomy lovers guidance," Bao said, adding that the school encourages students to develop hobbies after class and has started interest-oriented classes in areas like artificial intelligence, model-making and electronics.

"This will not affect studies. Instead, it will help students discover new territory, and is good for cultivating talent," he added.

"Wang does well in his studies and has a number of hobbies, like astronomy, photography, calligraphy and soccer. He likes research and can balance everything well."

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