Somerset photographer 'emotional' to be shortlisted for prize

An astrophotographer has said being shortlisted for this year’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition was “emotional”.

Josh Dury, from Somerset, took the photo of The Callanish Stone Circle on a visit to The Isle of Lewis last year.

He called the image ‘The Enigma of the North’.

Mr Dury missed out on the top prize, which went to a photo of a huge plasma arc next to the Andromeda Galaxy, taken by a group of amateur astronomers.

Scientists are now investigating the giant cloud of gas.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich in London, which runs the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, also awarded two 14-year-old boys from China the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year prize.

Josh Dury holding a camera and smiling with a red wall behind him

Josh Dury said it did not take him very long to take the shortlisted photo

Mr Dury said it had been six months since he had picked up a camera when he snapped the photo on the outer Hebrides.

“So, to be able to capture this image and then be shortlisted for this competition, it was emotional,” he added.

The photographer’s passion for the night sky began at the age of seven, when he started watching science-fiction programmes about Mars.

He said: “Living in Somerset I wanted to capture some of these landmark images and it’s taken me on a journey to become a freelance astrophotographer.”

He told BBC Points West that this time of the year is a “really good time to see the northern lights”.

“It’s quite a spectacle to see here from the South West,” he added.

Mr Dury said people should also be able to see the Milky Way, due south, as soon as the skies get dark and Venus, due east, before the sun rises.

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