The Hebrides after dark: amazing photographs released

This stunning image of Rodel Church by Mark Stokes of Lewis will also go on show as part of the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival. PIC: Mark Stokes.
This stunning image of Rodel Church by Mark Stokes of Lewis will also go on show as part of the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival. PIC: Mark Stokes.
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Amazing photographs of the Hebrides at night have been released as the islands prepare to host the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival.

Ten photographers living and working in the Western Isles have been selected to display their work at An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway to coincide with the festival’s launch on Friday, February 8.

Andromeda Calling, Aurora from Ardhasaig by Gordon Macdonald, will go on show during the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival. PIC: Gordon Macdonald.

Andromeda Calling, Aurora from Ardhasaig by Gordon Macdonald, will go on show during the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival. PIC: Gordon Macdonald.

They were selected following a competition to find the images that best captured the island skies, which are often blessed with clear views of astronomical phenomenon.

The competition winner Casey McIntyre, from Bernery, now has his image of ‘Steve’ -a Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement - printed on the cover of the festival programme.

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The other photographers selected to show their work are Magz Macleod, Chris Murray, Emma Rennie, Mark Stokes, Andy Yearley and Les Ellingham - all of Lewis - and Stewart Carr of Tiree, Ruairidh Macdonald of North Uist and Gordon Macdonald of Harris.

Who's Steve by Casey McIntyre won the festival's photography competition and is now on the front cover of the event programme.  PIC: Casey McIntrye.

Who's Steve by Casey McIntyre won the festival's photography competition and is now on the front cover of the event programme. PIC: Casey McIntrye.

Festival co-ordinator Andrew Eaton-Lewis said: “The standard of entries in our photography competition was incredibly high and it was very difficult to choose our shortlist of ten, let alone decide on a winner.

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“We’re delighted to be able to share these striking photos, from Lewis, Harris, Berneray, Tiree and North

Uist, which really get across how extraordinary the skies above these islands can be.

“Even if you can’t make it along to the festival – or if the stars don’t come out as much as we’d like them to! – this exhibition will offer a really memorable dark skies experience.”

Lewis and Harris have some of the darkest skies in the whole of the UK.

Many astronomical sights can be seen through the naked eye including the Orion Nebula, which is over 1,500 light years away and the Milky Way Galaxy.

One of the Milky Way’s companion galaxies, the Great Andromeda Galaxy, can also be seen.

The islands are also considered to be one of the very best spots in the UK for watching the astronomical phenomenon of the Northern Lights.

The festival will open on February 8 with a screening of German silent film Wunder der Schöpfung, featuring a live score performed by Herschel 36 and an introduction by John Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland.

The two week festival, the first of its kind on the islands, will run until February 21 and will include stargazing, talks, family activities, film screenings, workshops and an indoor planetarium.

Events will also be held at An Lanntair, Gallan Head, and the world famous Calanais standing stones.

The full Hebridean Dark Skies Festival programme can be found online at www.lanntair.com/darkskies.