Man Accidentally Photographs Shooting Star Zipping Over Family's Heads

A man has accidentally captured a shooting star zipping over a family in an incredible "one-in-a-million" photo.

The image was taken on Saturday night at the The Twice Brewed Inn—a popular pub, restaurant and B&B located in the heart of the Northumberland National Park in northern England.

The park has the most pristine dark skies in the country thanks to its very low levels of light pollution, making it an attractive spot for skygazers.

In fact, the park became England's first International Dark Sky Park in 2013—a designation awarded by the International Dark Sky Association, which is committed to tackling light pollution.

Making the most of its location, The Twice Brewed Inn has an onsite observatory and hosts sky gazing events.

Steve Swan, his partner Louise Redpath and their children Harry, 13, and Rose, 11, who live in Morpeth, Northumberland, attended one of these events on Saturday night and took the opportunity to have a group photo taken in front of a spectacular aurora they had been observing.

The venue's resident stargazer Wil Cheung stepped up to do the honors, but no one could have predicted what he would capture—a shooting star photo-bombing the picture.

"Shooting star" is the colloquial term for a meteor—the streaks of light we see in the sky when tiny fragments of space debris enter Earth's atmosphere and burn up at high speed.

"We'd already had a fantastic night, stargazing to the south of the pub and then Wil invited us all to go out to the north side as the aurora was looking so amazing," Steve Swan said in a statement.

"We couldn't believe it when we saw the photo—ironically, we were the only ones in the group who didn't get to see the shooting star when it happened—but we have a pretty special photo which captured the moment forever."

Cheung, who is in charge of the stargazing program at the venue, said he is still shocked that he managed to capture such a moment.

"I still can't quite believe the photo caught it so perfectly," Cheung said. "Getting the aurora in the background; and such a beautiful shooting star traveling across the sky just at the moment the family were posing for a photo—it's amazing. I know I'll never take another shot like that again. It's a real one-in-a-million stuff."

Cheung posted the image to his Facebook photography page and it has already become one of his most popular posts, gaining thousands of likes within hours.

Cheung told Newsweek that the reaction to the photo has been "incredible."

"I think people can immediately see what a once in a lifetime shot this is. I don't think that moment could have been captured any better—it's unreal. The fact the whole family are posing and looking straight at the camera; the way the shooting star is going across the sky right above them; and the aurora is looking amazing too."

Swan said the family will be getting the photo printed and framed to hang up on the wall of their home.

"It's a really special family memory to have... and we'll certainly be going back to do more stargazing. I've always loved looking at the night sky, but this was the first time we'd done any proper stargazing, and we all had a fantastic time," Swan said.

"The kids were a bit worried about spending two hours out in the cold... but the time flew by and that's down to Wil. He's so enthusiastic and engaging, as well as being a pretty great photographer!"

Update 03/09/22, 9:44 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include additional comments from Wil Cheung.

A shooting star in a family picture
A shooting star photo-bombing a family picture taken by Wil Cheung, head of the stargazing program at the The Twice Brewed Inn—located in Northumberland, England. Wil Cheung/The Twice Brewed Inn stargazing program