Amateur astronomer wins NASA contest - with picture from her Guernsey back garden

Jean Dean learned she had won the competition within hours of submitted the image online. (Jean Dean/Guernsey Press/SWNS)

Amateur astronomer Jean Dean proved she’s a real star photographer - by winning a NASA competition from her back garden.

Jean, 60, submitted her image of the Rosette Nebula to the 'Astronomy Picture Of The Day' competition on NASA's website - and was shocked when she was emailed saying she’d won just hours later.

The nebula is 5,000 light years from earth but Ms Dean managed to capture all its glory from just outside her home on the Channel Island of Guernsey.

The photo of the Rosette Nebula by grandmother Jean Dean from her back garden. (SWNS/Jean Dean)

To take the winning photo, the camera was left over five nights during a star gazing course and consisted of 12 hours of exposure.

She said: "As an amateur, to have an image picked for Astronomy Picture of the Day is a great honour and it was a marvellous surprise."

"People often think that the space between the stars is empty, in fact there are large, extremely dense clouds of material comprising gas such as hydrogen and interstellar dust.

It took five days and 12 hours of exposure to take the image. (Guernsey Press/SWNS)

"I encourage anyone to come up here and have a look, we’re trying to encourage people to look up at the skies more."

Ms Dean said they were fortunate to live on Guernsey, because it has 'really dark skies' in some areas free from light pollution, making it easier to observe the stars.

She added she wanted to dedicate her photo to friend and fellow astrophotographer Trevor Mahy who recently passed away.

Jean Dean photographed the Rosette Nebula which is 5,000 light years away. (Guernsey Press/SWNS)

The Astronomy Picture of the Day is supported by NASA and has showcased astrophotography images since 1995.

Ms Dean described the daily collection as a 'tremendous education tool' for the general public.

Entries to the competition can be from any source, whether that is from the Hubble Space Telescope, or in Ms Deans case, her back garden.

What is the Rosette Nebula?

A nebula is a giant cloud of dust and gas in space, some nebulae come from the gas and dust thrown out by the explosion of a dying star, such as a supernova.

Others are regions of space where new stars are beginning to form. For this reason, some nebulae are called "star nurseries” - the Rosette Nebula is one of these.

It is around 5,000 light years away in the Monoceros region of the Milky Way.

The cluster of stars that make up the nebula can be seen with most binoculars and small telescopes during a clear night sky.

However, the striking rose red for which it is named after can not be viewed naturally and requires special photography techniques to capture.