An amateur stargazer has won praise from the US space agency Nasa for a photograph he and two others took of a cosmic bubble.
Russell Discombe from Cirencester, Joe Navara from Colorado in the US, and Glenn Clouder from Essex spent 30 hours photographing the Crescent Nebula.
The photo was named Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) by Nasa on 17 June.
Sports lecturer Mr. Discombe said it was a “huge shock” to have their image picked.
“I’ve only been doing this hobby for year-and-a-half, starting just before the lockdown, so I never really dreamt I would get an APOD – I’m absolutely delighted,” he added.
The space agency cherry-picks the best photos from around the world, including those from professional and state-run organizations to add to its archive.
Mr. Discombe, who also has his own astronomy YouTube channel, said this was the first time he had collaborated in this way with fellow astronomy fans.
“I took five-minute exposures and Jo and Glen took 10-minute exposures and you need to take multiple exposures and add them together,” he said.
“It is quite challenging to get the detail of the nebula.”
A nebula is a large cloud of dust and gas – they can be created when dust and gas is thrown out by the explosion of a dying star or can be regions where new stars begin to form.
“We never set out to get an amazing image, it was a bit of fun and nice to work with other like-minded people,” he added.