Christopher Andrew captured the ‘one in a million shot’ of the spaceflight which saw Scottish astronaut Dave Mackay become the first Scot in space — but alien hunters were soon getting in touch.
An amateur photographer took a shot of the night sky only to capture the sonic boom from the Virgin Galactic spaceflight… with the first Scot in space on board.
Construction worker Christopher Andrew, 34, from Invernesshire, took a long exposure shot on the Isle of Skye.
He only realised his “one in a million shot” when he checked the results.
The image coincided with Scots astronaut Dave Mackay telling his mission control: “Welcome to Space Scotland” as he left earth’s atmosphere on Friday.
His flight lifted off Virgin Galactic’s test site in the Mojave desert in California at 2,500mph.
Christopher said of his remarkable image: “I was trying to take the Milky Way and I had set it for a 25 second exposure so the shutter was open for 25 seconds.
“I couldn’t believe it. It’s pure fluke. I can’t describe the feeling. It’s a bit surreal.”
Former RAF pilot turned astronaut Dave, from a Sutherland fishing village later described the views beyond Earth’s atmosphere as “absolutely extraordinary”.
His co-pilot was former US Air Force Lt Colonel Mike ‘Sooch’ Masucci and their passenger Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor.
The VSS Unity was taken to 50,000ft (9.4 miles) by the mothership VMS Eve before detaching and shooting near vertically to an altitude of 55.87 miles — space begins at 50 miles, according to NASA.
Dave said: “It’s an extraordinary experience.
“It’s an extraordinary vehicle. It launches from a pretty slow speed and accelerates extremely quickly for 60 seconds at very high G acceleration. It folds itself in half for the re-entry and becomes a glider at the end. It’s a remarkable vehicle and it’s an extraordinary experience.”
He was greeted with the bagpipes on his return to earth.
Meanwhile, Chris has been fielding calls from UFOlogists from around the world since he posted his pic online.
“I have shown it to my work colleagues and they agree that it shows the craft travelling at speed,” Chris said.
“They were winding me up that it is a UFO and I have had some nutters contacting me from America and places like Australia.
“Alien hunters have also been asking me if it is a UFO.”