By LEE MORAN
Stunning: Photographer Alex Cherney has dedicated his life's work to capturing the night sky as it is rarely seen by humans by using just an ordinary digital camera
A star-gazer has come a little bit closer to the final frontier - after spending 18 months photographing the night sky.
With just an ordinary digital camera, Alex Cherney turned thousands of snaps into an incredible time-lapse video of the cosmos.
Using long exposures to allow more light in, these breath-taking pictures from the southern tip of Australia demonstrate how he captured the dramatic way the sky changes at night.
The pictures show planets, shooting stars, the Milky Way, the Moon, satellites and planes as well as rolling clouds, changing tides and passing ships on the horizon.
Starry eyed: This shot by Alex Cherney shows star trails above Elephant Rock on the Mornington Peninsula in South Victoria
Crystal clear: Alex Cherney takes advantage of the lack of light pollution on the southern tip of Australia to capture incredibly detailed pictures of the cosmos
Magnificent: Alex Cherney's photographs show planets, shooting stars, and even the Milky Way - features that are rarely seen from the polluted skies of the Northern hemisphere
He also took advantage of the lack of light pollution from a remote peninsula on the south coast of Australia to record the dazzling scenes rarely seen from the polluted skies of the Northern hemisphere.
Alex, an IT consultant, spent six separate nights over 18 months shooting the sky - each with a new or crescent moon to ensure minimum interference from light.
His spectacular images were then edited into a two-and-a-half minute video, which has now beaten 250 entrants to win the prestigious Starmus astro-photography competition.
Dedicated: It consultant Alex Cherney spent six separate nights over 18 months shooting the sky
Award winning: Alex Cherney's spectacular images were edited into a video the prestigious Starmus astro-photography competition.
The 36-year-old father-of-two from Melbourne said: 'It was my daughter who got me into astronomy. She came home from school with a project and asked if we could find aliens, so we went along to a local astronomy club.
'I looked through a telescope for the first time and there was no going back - I was hooked. Two years later I took my first photo of the night sky. It's amazing to me that you can record the stars and colours in the sky so clearly - even more than with the naked eye.
'So much of our sky is disappearing due to excessive light pollution. Most people in developed countries wouldn't see anything like this when they look up.
Incredible: This stunning photograph taken from the southern tip of Australia shows a meteorite near the Milky Way
'In Australia we're fortunate in that we don't have to go far to get away from the city lights, and I hope my pictures will help other people realise what's really out there. For this, I went out whenever there was a new moon and good weather - six nights over the course of 18 months.
'I set my camera up to take a sequence of pictures, with each exposure of 30 seconds. I took around 1,000 pictures a night, and then I put them together to demonstrate how the sky moves in relation to our position on Earth.
'I don't see it as a finished product - it's definitely a work in progress and I hope to carry it on as long as I'm able to. I hope my work will show people this incredible sky they may never normally see.'
Beautiful: This picture shows the Moon and the Milky Way