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Friday, January 22, 2010

Space pictures taken from garden shed

An amateur stargazer has stunned astronomers around the world with his photographs of the universe – taken from his garden shed.

Amateur astronomer Peter Shah who has taken astonishing shots of the universe from his garden shed
Amateur astronomer Peter Shah who has taken astonishing shots of the universe from his garden shed Photo: WALES NEWS SERVICE
Peter Shah, 38, cut a hole in the roof of his wooden shed and set up his modest eight-inch telescope inside. After months of patiently waiting for the right moment he emerged with a series of striking images of the Milky Way.

His photographs of a vivid variety of star clusters light years from Earth have been compared to the images taken from the £2.5 billion Hubble space telescope.

But it cost Mr Shah just £20,000 to equip his garden shed with a telescope linked to his home computer. He said: "Most men like to potter about in their garden shed – but mine is a bit more high tech than most.

"I have fitted it with a sliding roof so I can sit in comfort and look at the heavens. I have a very modest set up but it just goes to show that a window to the universe is there for all of us – even with the smallest budgets.
"I had to be patient and take the images over a period of several months because the skies in Britain are often clouded over and you need clear conditions."

Office worker Mr Shah, who lives in a hillside bungalow at Meifod, near Welshpool, Powys, has been an avid astronomer since his mother bought him a £5 telescope when he was seven.

Images in his collection include the Monkey's head nebula, M33 Pinwheel Galaxy, Andromeda Galaxy and the Flaming Star Nebula.

The superb photos, each made up of about 30 frames, are being published in a new book entitled Mirror Image. Mr Shah’s wife Lisa has supported him through his long nights of stargazing – supplying endless cups of coffee.

His images have been brought together for the first time in a book called Mirror Image. Images from the book and other photographs can be viewed at