Retired RAF pilot recognised for capturing space image from back garden

Graham Hazlegreaves's picture of the Orion Nebula M42 has received a prestigious award from the Guild of Photographers.

A former pilot has soared to new heights by clinching a prestigious award for space photography.

Graham Hazlegreaves’s talent and patience have been recognised by the highly respected Guild of Photographers.

The retired RAF pilot and air traffic controller captured an image of the Orion Nebula M42, which is 1,500 light years away, from his back garden in the Highlands.

He uses camera-mounted mini computers to track the movement of stars for long exposures, which are then processed on a laptop.

The Guild of Photographers created a new category for astrophotography this year because of growing interest in the field.

Image of the Orion Nebula (courtesy of Graham Hazlegreaves).Contributed

Graham’s initial interest in astronomy was sparked by NASA’s Apollo 11 mission to the moon when he was a boy.

“I remember pretty clearly my dad waking me up, at sort of three in the morning, for the landing for the first moonwalk, and as a kid to see that when you’re nine, ten-ish, it’s amazing,” he told STV News.

Graham believes the key to such specialist photography is patience.

STV News

“When you’ve got a challenging nebula or a challenging galaxy, that’s where the thrust is.

“That’s where you think ‘right, I need to do that’. But it’s patience. Because the only thing that wins is time. So, the longer you can get, to some extent, the more data you’re going to capture.”

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