BIO Space Sciences
It is one of the entries this year’s Astronomy Photographer of the Yearcompetition run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, in London.
With patience, a slow shutter speed and impeccable timing, British astronomer Stephen Banks was able to capture the brightly coloured band of stars that form the rest of our galaxy as it rose in the night’s sky above Durdle Door in Dorset.
As our own solar system orbits around the centre of the Milky Way, the stars in our sky change their position, meaning the familiar constellations would have looked very different when the rocks of the Jurassic Coast were first laid down.
Dr Marek Kukula, the public astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, said: “Every year I am amazed as the patience, skill and imagination shown by our entrants.
“This image of the Milky Way above Durdle Door is a good example as it would have required great skill to be there at exactly the right time to capture the galaxy as it rose in the sky.
“As the Earth spins its position will change through the night so the direction where it appears will be different.”
Leaving the shutter of the digital camera open for several seconds allowed Mr Banks to capture the detail of the rocky coastline despite the darkness while also capturing the bright stars above.
Some of the other entries to the competition require slightly more sophisticated equipment. One striking image of an electric blue cloud of dust reveals the stormy heart of a nebula where new stars are being born.
Nicknamed the Running Chicken Nebula, or IC2944 as it is officially known, this great cloud of glowing dust is asid to resemble a sprinting hen when viewed in the right orientation through a telescope.