Starswirl the bearded is just a mentioned character, the real Starswirl, which is show here, is a bonus pony toy that comes along with Rarity and her carriage. It started selling long before Starswirl the bearded were even mentioned.
This is not canon in any way other than that I used the toy which was made by hasbro. the contest this was for wanted us to make some story that would fit for Starswirl. At that point of time we had not yet even heard of the Bearded one.
I have to say, ever since I saw this in Equestria Daily, I have always admired the amount of creativity that has gone into this comic is superb. Your art managed to make this look even more beautiful and your attention to detail with the design of the character herself and the swirls of the starts and constolations are stunning. It was no wonder you won the competition. ^^