Lancashire photographer Mark McNeill’s picture is recognised at the Astronomy Photographer of the Year ceremony

Mark McNeills picture of the stars
Mark McNeills picture of the stars
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Professor Brian Cox called it “brilliant” – and now it has been officially recognised at an awards ceremony.

Photographer Mark McNeill’s picture of the stars – and the tree made world famous by Kevin Costner flick Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – was ‘Highly Commended’ in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year awards at the Royal Museums Greenwich.


His image of the Sycamore Gap Tree, next to Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, will go on display at the museum for the next decade, and will also feature in a new book released by publisher Collins.


Mark, 45, of Riversleigh Way, in Warton, said it was “an honour” to see off competition from thousands of other nightime photographers.


“To be highly commended makes me very proud, and hopefully my family too – my wife puts up with lots of late nights,” he said.


Mr McNeill, who lives with partner Loie, and daughters Martha and Hope, both two, and Maisy, nine, has been practising photography for around a decade, and said he went professional “three to four years ago”.


After travelling to Sycamore Gap with a friend, the pair stood in sub-zero temperatures taking pictures of the Milky Way last winter.


He said: “We took the gear and got there at about 11.30pm, but the moon was out and we couldn’t take any pictures of the Milky Way at first because it was too bright. We took pictures until 3am – by the time we got back to the car it was frozen solid.”


Mark is selling prints, and offers lessons. See markmcneillphotography.com