Spectacular images of space phenomena snapped by amateur astrophotographer


SCOTLAND — Fascinating space research can be achieved right in your own backyard no matter how well-versed you are in astronomy. All you need is a stellar telescope to catch a light show like no other to learn about what lies outside our planet. One space fan in Scotland captured jaw-dropping visions of the galaxy – all from the comfort of his back garden.

Bryan Shaw, 28, spends hours tracking the night sky to produce stunning images of nebulas and star clusters many light years away. He sets up his specialized telescope at his home in New Cumnock, a town in East Ayrshire, and focuses on his far-off subjects.

The Broadcast Production student has also captured beautiful landscape images featuring aurora and views of the Milky Way. Highlights of his work include the Orion Nebula, around 1,344 light years from Earth; and the Rosette Nebula, an open star cluster with rose-like cosmic clouds of gas and dust.

The Rosette Nebula
The Rosette Nebula, an open star cluster with rose-like cosmic clouds of gas and dust. Click to enlarge. (Credit: Bryan Shaw / SWNS)

Along with star watching, Bryan juggles his time at the University of the West of Scotland.

“I’ve been fascinated by the stars from a young age. I’ve never had the ability or skills to actually deep dive into them myself until recently, which has really kicked my passions for photography and more advanced techniques into overdrive,” he tells South West News Service. “With my equipment I can shoot from anywhere; it’s fully portable and I have filters which allows me to shoot through variant extents of light pollution. A lot of these specific images were all shot from within my garden.”

The Andromeda Galaxy
The Andromeda Galaxy, also known as Messier 31, M31, or NGC 224 and originally the Andromeda Nebula, is a barred spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth and the nearest large galaxy to the Milky Way. Click to enlarge. (Credit: Bryan Shaw / SWNS)

“I capture the images through my telescope, which has been upgraded to include special equipment such as dedicated astronomy cameras, focusers, field flatteners and filter drawers attached to a big heavy computerized mount to help with accurate and precise tracking of the night sky for long exposure images,” he continues.

The Horsehead and Flame nebula
The Horsehead (The Dark Nebula known as Barnard 33) and Flame Nebula are a group of Nebula located around 1375 Light Years from us which are all within the Orion Constellation. Click to enlarge. (Credit: Bryan Shaw / SWNS)

“In order for one of these images, the most necessary thing is a way to track the night sky precisely and accurately. You have to take various amounts of images, which are sometimes up to 600 seconds, which if not accurately tracked are just blurs of light,” says Shaw. “From there, I stack all the images from that target with calibration images, which are also shot at the same time to repair any vignetting or lens defects, to help bring out the details that are impossible to see by the naked eye.

“I then finally bring the photo to life with tweaks in various editing software to show the colors and details.”

Bryan Shaw
Pictured: Bryan Shaw

“The most recent images and skillsets are being put to use for my final project for University, which is an astrophotography project in a multi-platform structure for various visual and social platforms,” he adds.

Continue scrolling down below to see more of Shaw’s spectacular photographs. Click to enlarge them.

Milky Way
Milky Way over a Scottish landscape. (Credit: Bryan Shaw / SWNS)
Gibbous moon
Gibbous moon (Credit: Bryan Shaw / SWNS).
Whirlpool galaxy.
Whirlpool galaxy. (Credit: Bryan Shaw / SWNS)
The Andromeda Galaxy
The Andromeda Galaxy, also known as Messier 31, M31, or NGC 224 and originally the Andromeda Nebula, is a barred spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth and the nearest large galaxy to the Milky Way. (Credit: Bryan Shaw / SWNS)
Aurora over Scottish landscape. (Credit: Bryan Shaw / SWNS)
The Elephant's Trunk Nebula
The Elephant’s Trunk Nebula is a concentration of interstellar gas and dust within the much larger ionized gas region IC 1396 located in the constellation Cepheus about 2,400 light years away from Earth. (Credit: Bryan Shaw / SWNS)
The Orion Nebula is a diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way, being south of Orion’s Belt in the constellation of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. (Credit: Bryan Shaw / SWNS)
Bryan Shaw's back garden telescope set-up
Bryan’s back garden telescope set-up. (Credit: Bryan Shaw / SWNS)

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