Belfast Telegraph

Stunning image: Red sky at night, snapper's delight

By Harriet Crawford

This is the breathtaking bleak midwinter scene captured in our skies on Sunday.

It was by pure chance that avid photographer Martin McKenna (36) took the stunning snap.

He had already packed up his camera gear after watching the normal sunset from the garden of his in-laws' home in the countryside near Creggan, Co Derry,close to the west shore of Lough Neagh.

When the light faded and he went back inside the house for a cup of tea, he assumed that the action was over for the evening.

But, by chance, the self-described "night sky hunter" decided to go back into the garden for another look at the sky.

This photograph shows what he saw.

"On an instinct - perhaps by blind luck or because of old sky-watching habits - I felt the compulsion to walk back out into the front garden to look at the sky," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"As I came around the side of the house and looked to the west, I got an awesome shock."

Dusk was well advanced, and the sun long-gone, but Mr McKenna was surprised to see an encore sunset.

"The slow-moving alto-cumulus clouds were lit up against the darkening sky.

"Such extensive sunset colours at this hour of darkness is rare," he commented.

The amateur astronomer from Maghera has been taking photographs of the night sky since 2004.

"Seldom can I recall looking at such vibrant colours in the company of the Moon and stars against (them) as I did on this lucky day," he said.

Mr McKenna climbed over a wire fence and ran into the middle of a dark, damp field adjacent to the house to set up his camera and tripod to capture the striking vista.

An ultra-wide angle lens and his digital camera enabled him to photograph the stunning view. Mr McKenna said that he went into that field because of the lone country house with its Christmas lights on the roof.

The house in the bottom of the shot gives viewers a sense of the sunset's awesome scale and adds foreground interest to the truly impressive photograph.

"I was very happy with the image," Mr McKenna said.

"What a way to end November and what a good omen for further sky action during December."

Find more of his work at www.nightskyhunter.com

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