A star has been named in honour of Scotland to mark the opening of the first public observatory at the UK's only designated dark sky park.
First Minister Alex Salmond was handed a certificate for the "Alba" star, which means Scotland in Gaelic, as he officially opened the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory.
The centre is at the edge of Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park on the Craigengillan estate, near Dalmellington, Ayrshire, and was founded by estate owner Mark Gibson.
The observatory's dome was designed in, and flown over from, Australia and features a rotating, retractable roof to enable viewing through a robotic telescope. It also has a lecture room and an outdoor elevated deck for naked-eye observation.
East Ayrshire Council said it hopes the centre will attract visitors from across the world, increasing tourism and helping to regenerate the area.
Viewing will not be restricted to night-time, the council said. Daytime visitors can experience real-time links with observatories in Australia and other parts of the world. The observatory will also be used as an educational resource for schoolchildren and students.
Mr Gibson said: "This is a day of celebration and the achievement of a dream. What we have here is something incredibly precious and incredibly exciting. This is the only public observatory within a 'gold tier' dark sky park in the world. It will inspire people of all ages and backgrounds with a sense of wonder at the vastness and beauty of the heavens."
Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, which spans 300 square metres, was awarded its status by the International Dark Sky Association in November 2009 during the International Year of Astronomy. The observatory will not be open to the public immediately because the telescope is still being calibrated.
Mr Salmond described the observatory as "no less than stunning".
He said: "Curiosity about science and a passion for learning more about the world around us are the cornerstones of ensuring the next generations of innovators upon whom Scotland's future depends."