A rookie photographer was feeling ”out of this world” yesterday after his shots of the Milky Way were described as ”stunning” by Europe’s leading astronomy organisation .
American Eric Hines, 20, has only been taking photographs for 18 months and was desperate to capture a clear picture of the galaxy’s beautiful band of light.
He trekked 1,400 miles from Indiana, west to Niobrara County, Wyoming, where he was met by a perfectly clear night.
And his work paid off with this collection of photographs described as ”stunning” by the European Southern Observatory.
Eric’s results show the Milky Way’s galactic plane which is made up of billions of stars and planets.
One of the photographs features the 386-metre high Devil’s Tower – a world famous landmark used by Steven Spielberg in the sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
He said: ”The Milky Way has been something that I’ve wanted to photograph since I first started shooting.
”I was very happy when I saw the photos show up on my camera, and even more so when I was able to get them home and open them up on my computer.
”The results are something I’m definitely proud of.”
Eric’s collection of photographs have been praised by the leading astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive astronomical observatory.
Richard Hook, Public Information Officer at the European Southern Observatory said: ”These stunning pictures of the Milky Way in all its glory really show how spectacular the sky at night can look like far away from towns and cities.
”These are impressive pictures from someone young who is new to this kind of photography.”
The Milky Way is the galaxy which Earth and the solar system is located in.
It is about 100,000 light-years across and about 10,000 light-years thick with each light year representing around six trillion miles.
There are more than 200 billion stars within the Milky Way and around 50 billion planets.
Despite this vastness, the Milky Way only represents a pin-prick of the entire universe, which plays home to 170 billion observable galaxies.