The medal recognises outstanding work in the field of amateur astro-photography and is named after David Malin, one of the world's leading professional astro-photographers.
The medal was awarded to a member of the Museum's staff and it exemplifies the high quality of the photographic work undertaken at Sydney Observatory during the 2004 transit of Venus. The transit of Venus phenomenon has had important historical, scientific, and cultural links to Sydney Observatory, especially to the work of Henry Chamberlain Russell with the 1874 transit. It also continues the tradition of astronomical photography at Sydney Observatory begun by Russell in the 1870s.
The 2004 David Malin Award was one of the inaugural awards provided by the Central West Astronomical Society in their annual photography competion. The best of the photographs from this competion are now toured each year under the organisation of the Powerhouse Museum.