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07/10/2013 07:46 BST | Updated 10/10/2013 06:49 BST

'Gateway To The Milky Way' Seen In Unaltered Photo In Dorset (PICTURE)

The 'Gateway to the Milky Way' was snapped by Dorset-based photographer Stephen Banks in this stunning unaltered image in Durdle Door.

Taken at midnight just as the clouds parted, keen sky-watcher Banks managed to capture the centre of our galaxy as it passed through a natural rock archway.

durdle door dorest milky way

By setting his camera to a 30-second exposure time, and using a bright LED torch to illuminate the arch, the 24-year-old snatched the perfect moment.

The unaltered picture by Banks, known as DorsetScouser to fellow photography hobbyists, reveals a striking cross between the star-filled sky and a sunrise on the horizon.

Banks, who works in PR, said: "I've never captured Durdle Door like this before and never seen a picture quite like it.

"I walked along the beach and carefully lined up the light in the distance with the 'door' of the arch.

"I drove through a lot of fog to get to this location, so I was adamant that the evening would be a complete right off. But luckily the fog began to clear as I made the descent down to the beach. Some mist was still present and, in the distance, the lights from a boat lit up the horizon.

"With a 30 second exposure, this had the effect of making the lights look like the moon or sun rising, but you can still see the stars in the sky.

"I could quite easily have given up and turned back to Bridport that evening, but I stuck with it and was very pleased that I did."

Banks, of Bridport, Dorset, has taken the astronomy photography world by storm and has been asked to enter his pictures for Astronomy Photographer of the Year award.

Flick through the full shortlist for Astronomy Photographer Of The Year 2013 at The Royal Observatory Greenwich below:

Photo galleryAstronomy Photographer of the Year 2013 Shortlisted Images See Gallery

Check out more amazing space pictures below:

Photo galleryAstronomy Photographer of the Year 2013 Shortlisted Images See Gallery