it’s a baby scan with a difference – and it caught one mother-to-be completely by surprise.
This image captures the moment an expectant mum unexpectedly saw an image of her unborn child, not on a hospital scanner but at a popular tourist attraction.
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions features a range of optical attractions, including the Heat Cam thermal imaging camera, where the woman, a visitor from France, captured the image on Tuesday evening.
Manager Andrew Johnson said: “She came running down and said ‘I’ve just seen my baby’. She was excited about it but she was worried if her baby could be hurt by the camera.
“We were able to reassure her and explain how the camera works, which is that it picks up heat rather than light, so it wasn’t scanning her at all.
“Warm parts emit more heat and show up as red, so the baby showed up very nicely.”
Visitors stand in front of the camera in a darkened room, while the image appears on a screen.
Mr Johnson said: “Normally your abdomen is warmest because of your organs and anything close to your heart, around the face, forehead and your crotch!”
But when the pregnant visitor stood in front of the camera, the warm patch outlining her organs was partly masked by the cooler area of the baby.
Mr Johnson, who estimated that the visitor was around six months pregnant, said it was the first time he had ever seen a baby in the womb show up on the camera.
He said: “It was interesting to all of us. The lady’s partner was there and he was very proud, saying ‘I’m the father’ and taking lots of pictures.
“She was saying ‘Come and see, come and see’. She said she had last seen her baby a month ago and it had grown so much.
“What happens in the camera is that people start to disrobe. You’re in a dark room, and your hands and bare skin shows best, so people roll up their sleeves and even their trouser legs, which is always funny. She held up her top so we could have a good look at the image on the screen. She was really excited and just wanted to share it with everyone.”
The attraction is now bracing itself for an influx of expectant parents hoping to catch a glimpse of their baby’s outline in full technicolour.
Mr Johnson said: “I went back and told my wife, who’s a GP, and she said ‘the next door neighbour’s 17 weeks pregnant, we’ll have to get up there with her and see’.
“It’s a very different way of seeing your baby from a scan in a hospital. You’re not lying on your back and seeing it on the screen. It’s in colour, you can move around and it’s also a shared experience you can show other people.”