Solar Serpent

Solar Filament & Prominence - 26 April 2015
Solar Filament & Prominence – 26 April 2015


I was delighted this morning to find this dark and large filament at the north-eastern limb of our Sun. It had the appearance of a large serpent with foot like projections anchoring it to the solar surface and then visible curving around the limb. The filament is magnetic curtains of plasma hovering over the Sun’s surface, this an especially large and detailed one. I read on the Spaceweather site that the length of the filament would measure the distance from the Earth to the Moon. That’s one big serpent!

Solar Filament & Prominence
h-alpha 60mm Lunt 35x
Maui, Hawaii
4/26/15 0800-0845 HST
Black Strathmore Artagain Paper
White Conte’ Crayon & charcoal pencils, black & white
Photoscape Software to colorize, Photoshop Software to reduce size

Cindy L. Krach
Haleakala Amateur Astronomers

Posidonius Crater

Posidonius Crater
Posidonius Crater

Hi all,

yesterday evening just before the altocumulus clouds of the approaching depression covered the sky, I could do another sketch of the moon: This time it was crater Posidonius and its surroundings.

Ah, by the way, this time I tried a new pen: For the bright areas (e. g. the western rims of Posidonius A and J), I took a whitecoal pen instead of chalk pen. That provided much brighter contrast.

Another novelty for me: I didn’t use a diagonal but an Amici prism, so that the view in the eyepiece wasn’t mirrored at all. The view was a bit less bright, but for the moon it’s still bright enough.

Object Name: Posidonius
Object Type: Lunar Crater
Location: Germany, Dusseldorf area
Date: 2015-04-24, 2130-2205 CEST
Media: chalk pastel pencil, whitecoal pencil and charcoal pencil on black sketching cardbox
Telescope: Celestron Nexstar 127 SLT
Eyepiece: TS HR Planetary 7mm

Clear skies


Sunrise at Mare Crisium

Mare Crisium
Mare Crisium


find attached a charcoal and pastel sketch of the sunrise at Mare Crisium. I hope you like it.

Object Name: Mare Crisium, eastern part
Object Type: Lunar Maria
Location: Germany, Dusseldorf area
Date: 2015-03-22, 2020-2100 CET
Media: chalk pastel pencil and charcoal pencil on black sketching cardbox
Telescope: Celestron Nexstar 127 SLT
Eyepiece: TS HR Planetary 7mm

Clear skies


Craters Diophantus and Delisle

Craters Diophantus and Delisle
Craters Diophantus and Delisle
Craters Diophantus and Delisle - Labeled
Craters Diophantus and Delisle – Labeled

On the western side of Mare Imbrium are craters Diophantus (19 km.) and Delisle (25 km.) with mons Delisle in between and closer to the crater of the same name. A dorsum or ridge here is perhaps a buried crater rim and creates a sharp edge curving demarcation on the terminator side of the Moon at the time of sketching. Some of the massifs in this region such as mons La Hire (1.5 km. high), mons Vinogradov (1.4 km.) and mons Delisle( 0.8km. high) are described by some geologists as likely left over remnants from the rings of the Imbrium impact. Additional craters seen at this observation included Euler (2.8 km.), Artsimovich (9 km.), Gruithuisen (17 km.) and Heis (15 km.)and numerous smaller unnamed.


For this sketch I used: black Strathmore 400 Artagain paper, 9”x 12”, white and black Conte’pastel pencils, a soft charcoal pencil, brush and a blending stump.

Telescope: 13.1 inch f/6 Dobsonian and 9mm eyepiece 221x
Date: 01-31-2015, 03:10 – 04:25 UT
Temperature: -7°C (20°F)
clear, breezy
Seeing: Antoniadi III
Co longitude: 38.7°
Lunation: 10.33 days
Illumination: 84.9 %
Phase: 45.8°

Frank McCabe

Prominence Extraordinaire! H-alpha Prominence 1-10-15

Solar Prominence - January 10, 2015
Solar Prominence – January 10, 2015


I think what I like best about solar observing is you never know what you will find going on! This large prominence at the eastern limb appeared extraordinary in its detailed and lacey appearance. Seeing was very good and at higher magnification a network of bright areas appeared, much like a picture of a neuron cell with branching filaments extending in all directions. Tilting Sun Graphics are used to denote prominence location.

Solar Prominence
h-alpha 60mm Lunt
Maui, Hawaii
0945-1020 HST (1945-2020 UT)
Black Canson paper, white & black charcoal pencil, watercolor pencil & Conte’ Crayon
Tilting Sun Graphics

Cindy (Thia ) L. Krach
Haleakala Amateur Astronomers

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Keep up the great work,

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Rich Handy
ASOD webmasters

Lunar crater Maurolycus

Lunar crater Maurolycus and environs - December 28, 2014
Lunar crater Maurolycus and environs – December 28, 2014


here we go with a chalk/charcoal sketch of lunar crater Maurolycus.
Object Name: Maurolycus
Object Type: Lunar Crater
Location: Germany, Dusseldorf area
Date: 2014-12-28, 1650-1720 CET
Media: chalk pencil and charcoal pencil on black sketching cardbox
Telescope: Martini 10” f/5 truss tube dobsonian
Eyepiece: TS HR Planetary 7mm

Clear Skies!


Gassendi, Rimae Mersenius and Rupes Liebig at the terminator

Mare Humorum including Gassendi, Rimae Mersenius and Rupes Liebig at the terminator - December 2, 2014
Mare Humorum including Gassendi, Rimae Mersenius and Rupes Liebig at the terminator – December 2, 2014
Gassendi, Rimae Mersenius and Rupes Liebig at the terminator labeled
Gassendi, Rimae Mersenius and Rupes Liebig at the terminator labeled


This was one of those nights things just fall together. Excellent seeing and light enough from the Moon that I could see the paper well. After finishing my sketch at the eyepiece I went inside to clean it up and was pleasantly surprised that I liked it pretty much the way it was.

110km wide Gassendi Crater showed some excellent roughened floor details with hummocks casting shadows as well as floor rilles illuminated as bright & dark lines. Rima Mersenius is brilliantly lit on the terminator and the bright scarp of Rupes Liebig can be seen at the base of the wall.

Gassendi Crater, Mersenius Rille, Rupes Liebig, Mare Humorum @11.7 days lunation
.12/2/14 2030-2140 HST
12.5″ Portaball, 227x
Canson Black paper and white and black Conte’ Crayon, white charcoal pencil
Photoscape to adjust contrast

Cindy (Thia) Krach
Haleakala Amateur Astronomers
Maui, Hawaii

Lunar craters Aristoteles and Mitchell

Lunar craters Aristoteles and and Mitchell - November 28, 2014
Lunar craters Aristoteles and and Mitchell – November 28, 2014


Tonight I could do yet another lunar crater sketch:

Object Name: Aristoteles and Mitchell
Object Type: Lunar Crater
Location: Germany, Dusseldorf area
Date: 2014-11-28, 1910-1940 CET
Media: chalk pencil and charcoal pencil on black sketching cardbox
Telescope: Celestron Nexstar 127 SLT
Eyepiece: TS HR Planetary 7mm
Clear skies!


Elvis Spotting! Elvis rocks out on the lunar terminator

"Lunar Rock Star", a pattern of shadow and light play that resembles Elvis Presley- November 28, 2014
“Lunar Rock Star”, a pattern of shadow and light play that resembles Elvis Presley- November 28, 2014
Lunar elvis labeled
Lunar elvis labeled
"Lunar Elvis" captured with an iphone - November 28, 2014
“Lunar Elvis” captured with an iphone – November 28, 2014


A somewhat cloudy night but the Moon beckoned so I set up my ES102ED. Whoa, whats that? Its Elvis rocking out on the lunar terminator! What a fun surprise to find the dark outline of a figure standing wide appearing to play a guitar! A friend had told me about this phenomenon as well as some of the lunar alphabet visible at certain times on the terminator. I have tried to observe this before but was either too late or too cloudy. This time it was by complete surprise that I found it. I sketched at the eyepiece and cleaned up the sketch later in better light. I was also able to capture “The King” with my iPhone.
The interesting thing is that Elvis (aka Lunar V) is only visible for a short 1-2 hour window of time every month. This perfect angle of light shows not only Lunar V but also Lunar X a few hours after the first quarter. Lunar V is visible at the terminator between Mare Vaporum and Sinus Medii near Crater Ukert. Other landmarks are Hyginus Rille and Crater Triesnecker.

Glenn Chaple wrote about “Elvis and the Alphabet” in the August 2013 issue of Astronomy Magazine. Very interesting to find these “little jewels hiding in plain site” as one reader wrote.

Cindy (Thia) Krach
Haleakala Amateur Astronomers
Black paper, white & black charcoal pencils
2145- 2245 HST 11/28/14
0745- 0845 UT 11/29/14

Lunar craters Snellius and Stevinus

Lunar craters Snellius and Stevinius - November 25, 2014
Lunar craters Snellius and Stevinius – November 25, 2014


yesterday evening, I got the opportunity to do another chalk/charcoal sketch of the moon. Here we go with my sketch of craters Snellius and Stevinus. Due to the bad seeing, I couldn’t go beyond the 10mm eyepiece this time.
Object Name: Snellius and Stevinus
Object Type: Lunar Crater
Location: Germany, Dusseldorf area
Date: 2014-11-25, 1715-1745 CET
Media: chalk pencil and charcoal pencil on black sketching cardbox
Telescope: Celestron Nexstar 127 SLT
Eyepiece: Celestron X-cel 10mm
Clear skies!


Sinus Iridum

Sinus Iridum - June 8, 2014
Sinus Iridum – June 8, 2014

Find attached a sketch of Sinus Iridum with craters Bianchini, Laplace A, Laplace D and Heraclides E done yesterday evening.

Object Name Sinus Iridum, The Moon
Object Type Impact basin
Location Dusseldorf region, Germany
Date June 8th, 2014, 2120-2205 CEST
Media white pastel pen, charcoal pen on black cardbox paper
Telescope: Celestron Nexstar 127/1500 SLT
Eyepiece: TS HR Planetary 7mm
Best Regards,


14.16-day-old Moon

Gibbous Moon - February 14, 2014
Gibbous Moon – February 14, 2014

I’ve been doing a study on lunar phases and this is my latest sketch. This is a photo of it from last night after wrapping up my observing session. No adjustments have been made to the sketch other than cropping the lower blank portion of the paper.

My phase sketches used to take close to two hours to complete at the eyepiece. I’ve been building up my endurance to 3-4 hours for a single sketch to include more detail. Obviously, the terminator is drawn first to “freeze” the time stamp on the phase. Then I work my way across the disk at a more leisurely pace, moving my observing chair and stool gradually as the session progresses.

I used a 102mm f/9.8 refractor on an LXD75 mount, 20mm eyepiece setting on my Hyperion zoom, and a 13% T Moon filter to help with contrast. The media is black Strathmore Artagain paper (60 lb., 160 g/m2), white charcoal pencil, black charcoal pencil, white Conte’ crayon, white Conte’ pastel pencil, black Conte’ color pencil,and a blending stump for the maria. I used a circular 6-inch protractor to outline the lunar disk.

Total eyepiece/sketch time is just over four hours on this one.

Best regards,
Erika Rix
Texas, USA

Mars – January 7, 2012

Mars - January 7, 2012
Mars – January 7, 2012

2012 01 07 – Mars
PCW Memorial Observatory, OH – Erika Rix
16” Zhumell, f/4.5, non-tracking Dobsonian mount
12mm WA Burgess, 2x Barlow, 300x magnification
Filters: Mars, 82A blue, 21 orange
5.6 C, 64% H, S: Pickering 4-5, T: 3/6
CM: 159.8°, Ls: 54°, Phase: 0.92, V. Mag: 0.1
RA: 11h 32m, Dec: 6° 18′ 51″

This was my most recent Mars observation from a few weeks ago. With only one or two clear nights since then, the timing was such that it prevented me from being able to crack open the observatory.

The early morning of the 7th, I had ample time to let the mirrors cool down on the telescope and collimated before dark. It was a little windy but had calmed down by 3am. Still, seeing wasn’t the best. I cold make out the NPC straight away and it appeared tucked in on the western and eastern edges more so than my observation the week prior. There was a definite dark streak above the NPC in my view and a few more darkened patches scattered around the disk. Very slight limb brightening on both the preceding (just prior to the terminator toward either pole) and following limbs.

I had to nudge the scope time and time again to let Mars slowly drift through my FOV before slight variances in albedo became apparent. It was nearly impossible for me to match them up with labeling programs such as Mars Previewer II or my Mars Globe app on my iPad because the two views on those programs were a little off from each other even though I checked the date, time and location several times. In the end, I went with Mars Previewer II since I’ve been using that program the longest.

I’m very much looking forward to more opportunities with Mars as it reaches opposition. If only my primary mirror was clean…sigh.

The sketch was created using charcoal on card stock, charcoal pencils, willow charcoal, vinyl eraser pencil and kneaded rubber eraser.

The Talkin Horse

B33, NGC 2023, IC 434
B33, NGC 2023, IC 434


The evening of December 4th (morning of the 5th) was a beautiful night at one of my favorite spots 8 miles from my home on the road to Haleakala National Park. Very clear & very dark. I am finishing up my Planetary Nebula project with Astronomical League and at midnight decided to take a break & try for the Horsehead Nebula again while I was totally dark adapted. Last year I was elated to locate it from my driveway but didn’t sketch it at the time. This year I hoped from a darker location it would be even better, but I decided to just look and not get my hopes up.

After enjoying views of the Flame Nebula I placed Alnitak out of my field of view to the north. Using my 27mm & Narrow Pass Band filter I then placed NGC 2023 to the north inside my view and looked for the 2 – 10th & 13th magnitude guide stars to follow into the Horsehead.
I could see a dim dark patch with averted vision, hood over my head and an eyepatch on the opposite eye. After a short time I could make out the thumbprint of the head with some brightness around the rim and with longer observation a notch appeared to the NW. Some tiny stars also present themselves around the head as well as a linear brightness running N/S through IC 434. I then changed to a 20mm with h-beta filter and more light and dark details of IC 434 appeared, though overall it appeared darker. I got to work sketching & writing up details.

As I was finishing my sketch I heard a “whinnying” sound nearby. I froze because it sounded close and I was all alone. After a moment I realized its an app my daughter has on my iPad that makes horse sounds periodically. It just happened to do so while I was observing the “Horse”! I giggled and ended the night there. What could top that!

B33, IC 434, NGC 2023
Dark Nebula, Emission Nebula, Reflection Nebula
Haleakala Highway 6,000 ft el, Maui, Hawaii
12/5/13 12:00pm, 10:00 UTC
12.5” Portaball, h-Beta & NPB filters, 20mm 76x
Charcoal pencil, charcoal with brush technique, white paper
Inverted with Photoscape software

Cindy (Thia) Krach
Haleakala Amateur Astronomers

Jupiter and Europa

Jupiter and Europa - November 29, 2013
Jupiter and Europa – November 29, 2013

On Friday evening after setting up to observe, I could see sky conditions would be better than average for this time of year( late fall).
When Jupiter climbed to more than 60 degrees above the horizon, I realized that this would be the night to make a first sketch of Jupiter for the season.
The GRS was redder than last season especially in its center and was well set apart from both the South Tropical Zone and South Equatorial Belt. Europa had just emerged from behind the North Tropical Zone on the following side of the planet. A couple of festoons could be clearly seen in the Equatorial Zone emerging from the North Equatorial Belt.
It was right at my tolerable cold temperature limit for sketching and I finished before needing to retreat indoors to warm up.
On a steady night of good seeing this is the time to give Jupiter a look.

Equipment Used: 13.1 inch f/6 Dobsonian running on an equatorial platform 6mm eyepiece (333x) and Baader Neodymium filter

Sketching: Assorted graphite pencils, medium hard charcoal pencils, erasers, blending stumps,
white copy paper
Seeing: Pickering 7/10
Transparency : Average 3/5
Temperature: 21°F (-6°C)
Jupiter: Visual mag. -2.6, Diameter 44.65 “, illumination 99.6%, distance from earth 4.4 au

Frank McCabe

H-Alpha Sun – May 3, 2012

H-Alpha Sun - May 3, 2012
H-Alpha Sun – May 3, 2012

2012 05 07, 1315 UT – 1500 UT.
NOAA 11476, 11474, 11475, 11471.

PCW Memorial Observatory, Texas – Erika Rix
Temp: 26.72°C, winds SE 4mph, partly cloudy to scattered.
Seeing: Wilson 4.5, Transparency: 4/6, 50x, Alt: 30.2, Az: 087.2.
Maxscope DS 60mm H-alpha, LXD75, Baader Planetarium Hyperion 8-24mm Mark III.

Sketches created at the eyepiece with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang color pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil.

I’ve really been enjoying the current set of active regions the past few days. It would be nice to sketch each individual active region as a close up view, but to do that would take several hours. As it was today, I struggled with a group of thick clouds for the first hour of my session. The sky was crystal clear when I set up and I chose to ignore the weather channel for my area stating that we could have thunderstorms at 8 a.m. Thankfully the storms never came…the clouds did. I was able to catch glimpses of the Sun in between the clouds and by 8:45 a.m., the sky was nearly unobstructed.

The first features added to the sketch after the prominences were plage from 1476 and 1471. Next came the sunspots themselves and filamentary structure. By 9:10 a.m. (1410 UT), very bright plage appeared just north of the sunspots in 1471. I haven’t been able to confirm yet if it was a solar flare, having expected possible flare activity in 1476 instead. But it lasted nearly an hour before it dulled somewhat. Near the end of my session, 1471’s plage brightened quite a bit to the eastern side of the major sunspot in that region as well as about five more degrees further east again.

1474 and 1475 paled in comparison to the two major active regions. There were nice filaments and thin plage that made them easy to find.

The large chain of filament reaching to the southern limb was still there, although thinner. Prominences scattered around the limb were insignificant.

Eight Active Regions and a Billowy Prom

Solar Prominence - May 16, 2012, 1445 UT - 315° PA
Solar Prominence – May 16, 2012, 1445 UT – 315° PA

2012 05 16, 1300 – 1600 UT .
NOAAs 11476, 11477, 11478, 11479, 11481, 11482, 11484, 11485.

PCW Memorial Observatory, Texas – Erika Rix
Temp: 17.2°-27.8C, calm-N 5mph, clear.
Seeing: Wilson 4.8-4.6, Transparency: 5/6, 50x.
Maxscope DS 60mm H-alpha, LXD75, Baader Planetarium Hyperion 8-24mm Mark III.

Sketches created at the eyepiece with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang color pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil.

As of this morning, there were 8 active regions on the Sun. Plage and filaments scattered over three quarters of the solar disk with sunspots popping in and out of view crisply as it moved in and out of the scope’s sweet spot. A large diffuse quiet region filament, similar to the one observed on May 6, 2012, was to the SE quadrant reaching out over the limb. Two large bright prominences were located at PA 70 and 115 with several smaller ones scattered around the limb. The prom at 70 degrees had very faint wisps of structure reaching between the three brightest regions.

I had started to draw the full solar disk when a faint pair of prominences to the NW caught my eye. I had accidentally kicked the adaptor that was plugged into my power pack and the mount turned off, allowing the disk to drift across my field of view. When this happened, a huge billow of plasma floated above the limb. It was attached by very slender lines of plasma to the thick fainter prom at the 315 degrees position angle. It had the appearance of a large balloon being blown to the south while tethered to the ground. Tossing my larger sketchpad to the side, I grabbed the smaller pad and quickly sketched this prom. As the course this morning’s observation went on, the billowed top of the prominence changed quite dramatically. I almost expected it to either break free or collapse on itself before my session ended but by the time I completed the full disk sketch, it was still there.

The prominences near 1476 were dense and compact. The plage was very brightly formed as several slender lines within that active region. The main sunspot in 1476 was very easy to spot in h-alpha although the ARFs were very thin and few.

1479 is reminiscent of 1476 several days ago, although the preceding spot standing alone is on the opposite end. Of course, another difference that the sunspots in 1479 are smaller. They may develop more as the days go on. Here’s hoping for beautiful weather so we can keep an eye on it.

Solar Prominence - May 16, 2012, 1345 UT - 70° PA
Solar Prominence – May 16, 2012, 1345 UT – 70° PA
H-Alpha Sun - May 16, 2012, 1550 UT
H-Alpha Sun – May 16, 2012, 1550 UT

Gassendi Crater

Gassendi Crater
Gassendi Crater
Move cursor over image to view labels.

2012 06 01, 0238 UT – 0446 UT Gassendi
PCW Memorial Observatory, Texas, Erika Rix

Celestron Omni XLT 102mm, 24-8mm Baader Planetarium Mark III Hyperion, 2x Barlow, 250x
Temp 71° F, 60% humidity, S: Antoniadi II, T: 5/6
Eyepiece sketch black Strathmore Artagain paper, Conte crayon and pastel pencil, charcoal pencil
Phase: 45.8 deg, Lunation: 11.21 d, Illumination: 84.8%
Lib. Lat: +05:08, Lib. Long: -04:13
Az: +209:11, Alt: 41:03

Located on the northern border of Mare Humorum, crater Gassendi is an impact crater formed during the Nectarian period (-3.92 to 3.85 billion years ago) that later was modified after volcanic activity, becoming a fractured-floor crater. Gassendi is believed to have been filled with lava from the inside, raising its floor, creating stress fractures in the process. This would explain it being considered a walled plain with a shallow depth of 2.8 km. The central peaks (~1200 m high) remain and several rilles (called Rimae Gassendi) were formed on the lava-filled floor during the Imbrian geological period -3.85 to –3.2 billion years ago.

Crater Gassendi A was formed during the Copernician period (–1.1 billion years ago to the present day) and overlaps Gassendi’s northern rim. The pairing of Gassendi and Gassendi A resembles a diamond ring and makes a very striking feature to observe 3 days after first quarter or two days after last quarter of lunation. My observation was nearly three days after first quarter.

Gassendi’s southern rim was swallowed by the lava of Mare Humorum leaving only a thin crest line to support its circular shape. Dorsa ran from the southern rim to Gassendi O (11 km wide). The sharp ridge that defines the border of Mare Humorum to the SW of Gassendi adds to the crater’s unmistakable identification.

At the beginning of my session, Spica and Saturn lined up to align with the Moon. Spica was 2.08 degrees north of the Moon and Saturn was 6.9 degrees north of the Moon. Extending further north, Arcturus was nearly in line as well at 31.8 degrees north of the Moon

An Interesting Contrast – Riccioli and Grimaldi Craters

Riccioli and Grimaldi Craters
Riccioli and Grimaldi Craters
Move cursor over image to view labels.


After a bit of a slump, I decided to get out & observe a little of our Moon. On the lunar west limb I spotted 2 craters that appeared so different from one another that I was intrigued. I knew that one was Grimaldi but was not certain about the other. I sat down to sketch at the eyepiece on a night of good seeing conditions in Hawaii.

Riccioli Crater is the large (140 km) lunar impact crater at the western terminus of the sketch. It is bordered to the southeast by the larger (230 km) Grimaldi & to the northwest by Hevelius. Hedin is still in the darkness and only the edge becoming lit.

Riccioli appears elongate with rough crater walls casting sharp jagged shadows into the basin. There is also visible roughness & debris within the crater. This debris & other striated formations in the region are believed to have been created by ejecta from the formation of the Orientale impact basin to the southwest not seen here. The roughness of Riccioli is in stark contrast to Grimaldi which appears smooth by comparison. Grimaldi, covered in lava makes it appear more like a mare than a crater.

There appears to be a dark line or peak running from Riccioli to crater Lohrmann directly to the east. Multiple small brightly lit rimmed craters surround this area. A double crater with 2 bright rims of light can be seen at the northeast edge of Riccioli.

Both Riccioli & Grimaldi craters were named by 17th century Jesuit priests & colleagues Francesco Maria Grimaldi & Giovanni Baptista Riccioli, who were responsible for many of the names given to features on the Moon today.

Thia (Cindy) Krach
12.5” Portaball 169x
Maui, Hawaii
Black Fabriano paper
white & black charcoal pencils

Eta Carinae Nebula

Eta Carinae Nebula
Eta Carinae Nebula


I submit a recent sketch from 4/14/12 of the Eta Carinae Nebula. It was not much above the horizon this night, perhaps 10 degrees. I had to sit on the ground to observe it using my 12.5” Portaball. Well worth the dirt on my bottom. A gasp was all I could manage after seeing it for the first time. The night was superb, with no wind & excellent seeing.

The nebula is massive, ~4 times larger than the Orion Nebula covering about 3 degrees of sky. It also contains Eta Carinae, one of most luminous & massive stars known. If we could put this star the same distance as our sun it would appear 5 million times brighter. It is partly obscured by gas & dust making it appear dimmer than it actually is.

Eta Carinae Nebula in Carina NGC 3372
Diffuse Nebula
Haleakala, Maui Hawaii ~10,000 elevation
Charcoal pencil & white paper
Sketch inverted with Photoscape
12.5” Portaball, NPB filter
27mm Panoptic 56X

Messier 42

Messier 42
Messier 42

Object Name: M42

Object Type: Orion emission nebula

Location: Iran_Sabzevar

Date: 21/9/2012

Media: Black Cardboard with white Charcoal Lead Pencil

Im Shadi from a little town of Iran and I have pretty good conditions for observing!!! I can almost Observe most of Messier Objects and NGCs with my little 80 mm refractor telescope!

Shadi Shahraini:) happy

Western rim of Mare Crisium

Crater Line Linne
Mare Crisium (Move mouse over image to view labels)

2012 09 04, 0330 UT – 0615 UT Mare Crisium
Erika Rix, Texas –

AT6RC f/9 1370mm, LXD75, Baader Planetarium Hyperion 8-24mm Mark III (FOV 68 degrees at 171x), no filter
84F, 56% H, winds gusting 5-10 mph, clear, Antoniadi IV increasing to II, T 3/6
Alt: 11deg 43´, Az: 83deg 22´ to Alt: 46deg 21´, Az: 105deg 21´
Phase: 318.4 degrees, Lunation: 17.48 d, Illumination: 87.4%
Lib. Lat: -03:07, Lib. Long: +03.74

Type: Sea (Sea of Crisis)
Geological period: Nectarian (From -3.92 billion years to -3.85 billion years)
Dimension: 740km
Floor: lava-filled and is ~ 1.8 km below lunar datum
Outer rim: ~3.34 km above lunar datum

Eyepiece sketch on black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, Derwent watercolor pencil, black charcoal, black oil pencil.

The evening started off with DSO hunting while waiting for the Moon to come up, even though the stars were and faint galaxies were starting to wash out from the moonlight rounding the eastern horizon. I started a sketch of M12 that will have to wait for another night to complete when the Moon isn’t so much of a factor.

Once the Moon rose between two short junipers behind me, I switched to black paper and scanned the terminator. Mare Crisium looked like it was taking a bite out of the Moon. I’ve always been a bit intimidated at sketching rough terrain, but took a stab at it nevertheless. Sketching in the highlights makes it incredibly easier in fast moving areas such as along the terminator. The trick is to have very sharp pencils at hand, and I made sure of that during set up before it got dark outside – although I did have to resharpen once or twice during the session (as well as stand up and stretch.) It was a rush against time to render the basin’s western edge before the shadows swallowed the view.

I began with the inner ridge line along the terminator, marking each highlighted crest individually with a very sharp Conte’ pastel pencil. Then as quickly and accurately as I could, started working my way west, alternating between the Conte’, charcoal, Derwent and oil pencils, focusing first on the highlights, then the shadows, followed by albedo.

Of particular interest, Crisium sports the crash landing site(although not visible from last night’s lunar phase) of the Soviet’s Luna 15 in 1969 and the landing site of Luna 24, 1976, when soil samples where successfully brought back to earth.

This was my first time observing the Moon with the AT6RC and once seeing sharpened up, the views were crisp and clear with good contrast. It’s especially good that we’ve never had to collimate this scope and I’m looking forward to trying it out on Jupiter soon.

Partial Annular Eclipse

Partial Annular Eclipse Sequence - May 20, 2012

2012 05 20 Partial Annular Eclipse
PCW Memorial Observatory, Texas, Erika Rix

H-Alpha Sun - May 20, 2012
H-Alpha Sun - May 20, 2012
H-Alpha Eclipse Diagram - May 20, 2012
H-Alpha Eclipse Diagram - May 20, 2012

Knowing that we fell within a good band to view a partial portion of the annular eclipse, Paul and I scoped out the local county roads earlier in the day for optimal horizons. The partial eclipse for our location was due to start at 1932 ST (0032 UT) which would only give about 50 minutes of eclipse viewing before sunset. The skies cleared up and we were fortunate to have perfect viewing conditions that evening.

I started off drawing the full solar disk in h-alpha. Four active regions lined up east to west with two more to the south (depicted to the top of the first sketch in the animation). I then made a quick second sketch to use for recording the times and placements of the Moon as it passed between Earth and the Sun.

First contact was at 0032 UT. The first marking was at 0035 UT. I set my iPhone’s timer to go off every five minutes until sunset, marking the Moon’s progress each increment with my oil pencil along with the times. In between, Paul and I would alternate using a pair of solar glasses from and the views from my double-stacked Coronado Maxscope 60mm h-alpha telescope.

The first image of the animation shows the original sketch in its entirety. Later, I used the second solar disk sketch as a reference to recreate the eclipse on the original sketch with a cut out circular piece of black Strathmore paper. This animation is the result.

As the solar disk became too dim to view (represented in the last couple frames of the animation), I was forced to leave the eyepiece and enjoy the last several minutes with the solar glasses and my camera.

Two original sketches created at the eyepiece with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang color pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil.

Prominence Ejection Sequence – May 17, 2012

Prominence Ejection Sequence - May 17, 2012
Prominence Ejection Sequence - May 17, 2012

2012 05 17, 1245 UT – 1845 UT
NOAAs 11476, 11477, 11478, 11479, 11482, 11484, NE Prominence

PCW Memorial Observatory, Texas – Erika Rix
Temp: 20-30C, calm – S 5mph, clear.
Seeing: Wilson 4.8-1.2, Transparency: 5/6-4/6, 50x.
Maxscope DS 60mm H-alpha, LXD75, Baader Planetarium Hyperion 8-24mm Mark III.

Sketches created at the eyepiece with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang color pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil.

Link to gallery of individual sketches within the sequence.

During the time I observed, a very large prominence off the northeast limb was enlarging and in the process of ejecting as it broke free from the magnetic fields supporting it. I’ve never visually witnessed that large of a prominence breaking away from the Sun before. What really stunned me was how bright it remained over several hours that far off the limb. I grabbed an 8-sketch sequence spanning over 6 hours of the event, not including the full disk rendering I recorded earlier in the day. The last 35 minutes of my session, the prominence became very faint and diffuse. I stopped seeing any connection from the limb after 1717 UT. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean there wasn’t, but was perhaps too faint for my tired eyes to see.

Solar h-alpha, Prominences – May 3, 2012

H-Alpha Sun - Full Disc - May 3, 2012
H-Alpha Sun - Full Disc - May 3, 2012

2012 05 03, 1845 UT – 2130 UT.
Solar h-alpha, Prominences and NOAAs 1469, 1471, 1472, 1473, 1474.

PCW Memorial Observatory, Texas – Erika Rix,
Temp: 33°C, winds SE 7 mph, occasional light cirrus,
Seeing: Wilson 2-3, Transparency: 4/6, 50x,
DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, Baader Planetarium Hyperion 8-24mm Mark III .

Sketch created scope-side with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil.

With five active regions, the Sun made quite an appearance today in spite of the limb. There were a few decent prominences, especially to the eastern hemisphere. My favorite view, though, were magnetic fields surrounding 1471 made apparent by the very thin active region filaments (ARFs). They reached down like fingers from the sunspots in that region. Plage was very intricate and meshed into what I believe was AR 1472.

The quiet region filaments (QRFs) were in abundance in the southern northern hemisphere with a few speckled to the south. AR 1474 seemed a bit washed out with plage and faint darkened areas. There was only slight plage definition and no sunspots observed in h-alpha. I didn’t set up a white light filter today for comparison.

1473 and 1469 were blended together by the plage and many lines of ARFs, including filaments reaching out over the edge for short, bright prominences. Plage was very bright, forming the shape of a tuning fork in 1469. These were impressive sets of active regions when paired up.

This was my first solar observing session since moving to Texas about two and a half weeks ago. With all that took place in preparing the old house for sale and the move to Texas, I’ve been deprived of any observing other than naked eye. It was a relief to be behind an eyepiece once again.

H-Alpha Sun - Prominence - May 3, 2012
H-Alpha Sun - Prominence - May 3, 2012

Great Globular Cluster in Hercules

Messier 13
Messier 13

Constellation Hercules
Type: Globular Cluster
Location: Plattsburgh, NY
Date: April 14, 2012
Time: 01:30am EDT
Materials used: 2H Graphite Pencil, 6B ex. soft charcoal pencil
Celestron Omni XLT 150 (6″)
12.5 Zhumel Plossl eyepiece giving 60x magnification
Conditions: Clear, Light polluted skies (Orange on the Bortle Scale)

M51 Revisited

Messier 51
Messier 51
Messier 51 - Revisited
Messier 51 - Revisited


One of my favorite objects to observe on dark, excellent seeing nights is M51 & companion galaxy NGC 5195. Seeing was excellent on the night of 3/19/12 & I sketched prominent features of the galaxies from the scope using a red light to see the paper. After returning inside for the night I decided to clean up my sketch & enhance some of the features I made notes on. A few nights later I went back to check on my accuracy.

Although I could see a lot of detail with my 12.5” Portaball, I realized I had over enhanced my sketch. I then stayed at the scope to remove the enhancements that were not accurate. This was a good learning experience for me. It is sometimes difficult to observe & stay dark adapted even with red light, and my visual acuity isn’t what it once was. In the future I plan to sketch, make notes, clean up the sketch with better light but then return to the subject to verify what I have truly observed.

(Cyn)Thia Krach

Object: M51 & NGC 5195
Object Type: Galaxy
Location: Maui, Hawaii ~4,000 elevation
Date: 3/19/12 9:20pm, second sketch 3/25/12
Media: White paper, charcoal & charcoal pencils, graphite. Inverted with Photoscape

Moon Halo and Jupiter

Moon Halo and Jupiter

Object: Moon Halo & Jupiter – 22 degree Halo around the moon
Object type: Moon & reflected light phenomenon, Jupiter
Location: Maui Hawaii
Date December 3,2011
Media: Charcoal pencil & sketch paper, Photoscape used to invert white to black

I walked outside tonight & beheld this lovely phenomenon I have observed many times here in Hawaii. I had always assumed it was a “Moonbow” but on further research realize it is a 22 degree Halo around the moon. Rough measurements were made using my fingers & fist for the degree of bow around the moon as well as distance of Jupiter from the halo to the North East. The inner halo is very distinct as a white rim that fades outward, and the inner area is darker than the outer. The ring around the moon is caused by the refraction of ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. The shape of six sided hexagonal ice crystals results in the focusing of the light into a ring.

The Orion Nebula

Messier 42 and 43
Messier 42 and 43


I recently discovered Astronomy Sketch of the Day, and since I just started sketching I wanted to share my Orion Nebula sketch.

This is M42 and M43 in the constellation of Orion.
Diffuse nebula
Sketch was done in Plattsburgh, NY
Done on February 19, 2012
Large sketch pad, 2H pencil for the stars and Charcoal 557-6B ex. soft for the nebula itself, used a smudge stick to fan out the nebula. Scanned into computer and smoothed out with Gimp to remove the paper texture and round out the stars.

Used a Celestron Omni XLT 150 Reflector with a 25mm eyepiece giving me 30x magnification.
Very clear skies, 4/5 transparency, 2/5 seeing, 30°F.

-Mike Rector

Mars – December 26, 2011

Mars - December 26, 2011
Mars - December 26, 2011

2011 12 26 – Mars
Erika Rix, Ohio, USA

We’ve been fortunate to have a few clear nights for observing lately. Mars season is upon us and it feels great to have a chance to try out my new filter set: Mars, 82A blue and 21 orange.

This sketch is a composite of all three filters. I started off with the Mars filter for an overall view. Syrtis Major was the first area I noticed. Next were the north polar cap and the darkened area around it. Faint structure started to appear but became even more apparent when I switched to the orange filter. Lastly was the blue filter that made the NPC and Hellas pop out dramatically. The following limb was brightened. Seeing was above average with slightly poor transparency. The session had to end because of clouds, but I felt the session was pretty much completed by that time anyway.

The sketch was created using charcoal on card stock, charcoal pencils, willow charcoal, vinyl eraser pencil and kneaded rubber eraser.

The majestic Swan

Messier 17
Messier 17

Hello everyone,

This last new moon I managed to pin onto paper the fabulous Swan Nebula, M17. After my previous new Moon’s view of it, I’ve been chaffing at the bit to get back to it. It is just so detailed, expansive, and subtle in features.

Most striking is the particularly dark hollow that is surrounded by the ‘neck’ of the Swan. It is so much darker than the surrounding space. Here is a tell-tale-sign of not only a dark pillar obstructing the light from the nebula, but that there is so much background light that comes from the background, invisible stars in this section of the Milky Way, that this dark pillar is just SO BLACK.

My previous look at the Swan had me see for the first time the highly textured nature of the ‘bird’s body’. This time, with the added time spent on looking at it, I noticed so much more extensive nebulosity that radiates out from the obvious avian shape. These extensions themselves are so very detailed.

As my big dob is of the good old push-pull type, the constant manual moving of the scope had my eye picking up this faint network of faint smokiness, that a ‘static’ image from a driven scope may not have allowed to be viewed so easily. Such as the heightened darkness immediately above and below the bird’s back and body, only to have more nebulosity sit above and below it, and even behind it. The effect was akin to a swan emerging from out of a soft bank of fog, and the bird’s movement through it causing a delicate disruption to the fog. Just beautiful.

This was a real challenge to sketch. So much of the object is so faint, needing averted vision to make it out. The mottled texture of the bird’s plumage was extraordinarily difficult to make out and lay down faithfully. So much of this is all averted vision work.

By far my most satisfying sketch to date. I hope you enjoy it too.

Object: M17, the Swan Nebula
Scope: 17.5”, f/4.5, push-pull dob.
Gear: 13mm Ethos (thanks Jim!), + OIII filter, 154X
Date: 30th July, 2011
Location: Mount Blackheath Lookout, NSW, Australia
Materials: White soft pastels & charcoal pencil on A4 size black paper, done over 3hrs.


Plasma Dancing on the Southwestern Limb

2011 06 30, 1435 UT
Solar h-alpha, SW prominence

PCW Memorial Observatory, Ohio USA – Erika Rix (
Temp: 24.2°C, Humidity 62%, cirrus
S: Wilson 4.5, T: 1/6-3/6, Alt: 38.3 deg, Az: 090.4 deg
DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell, 57.14x

Sketches created scope-side with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil

At first glance, this SW prominence only showed a clear view of its northern leading edge and part of its upper arch. To the south, there was a very bright, segmented area of prominence. Transparency was very poor, but on moments of clearing up, I was able to bump up the magnification to show the very light detailed structure of plasma holding it all together. Then yet further to the south, a tall slender area of prominence forked at the tip and its filament reached into the solar disk in three areas, with the northern one being the longest. Again, I could see faint structures of prominence reaching southward from the segmented prominence.

Classic Crater

Hi all,

My original intension when I selected the crater Copernicus was to have the terminator line very close to it. I didn’t get my timing right by a long shot! Instead, it was closer to a Lunar mid-day, making the shadows very short.

I was hesitant to sketch it, having my expectations dashed, and took an hour before I decided “What the heck! Just do it”.

Conditions were quite good for Sydney. At the best of times, using 222X is barely useable, giving only fleeting moments of clarity. This night was more good than poor! And an added bonus, NO DEW!

This is the first time I’ve used charcoal and soft pastels to do such a finely detailed sketch. It took a little getting used to, but what I really like about this materials is you can build up the layers to achieve the result you want. I found them very forgiving, unlike the cold.

Two hours, a pot of tea to keep the cold at bay, and a gorgeous orange tube C8, and this is the result.

Object: crater Copernicus
Scope: Orange tube C8
Gear: 9mm TMB Planetary Type II, 222X, + two polarizing filters
Date: 14’th May, 2011
Location: Sydney, Australia
Conditions: Fair
Media: Black & white charcoal pencils, grey soft pastel pencil, and white ink on black paper, A5 size.


Alex M.

A Globular Offering from the Altar

Hi all,

We’ve had some poor conditions in Eastern Australia for most of this year. I still haven’t had a single productive dark sky night yet! Last night it did clear, but for home, and on a Sunday evening! J LOL!

NGC 6397 is a real treasure of the Southern Sky. This globular cluster is just visible to the naked eye from a dark site. It has many mottled concentrations of stars within its confines, even some extending way beyond its core. Some of these, however, may just be incidental line of site features of other open clusters within our Milky Way as 6397 lies quite close to the centre of the Milky Way in the constellation Ara.

6397 also shares a feature with its more famous brother M4 of a “belt” of stars that cuts through its middle. The component stars of this belt in 6397 are much fainter though, making for a ghostly feature. It is a truly beautiful cluster, and a joy to sketch.

One thing I am not a fan of in my sketches is the blaster “Circle of Confine”, that all to dominant circle that describes the field of view. I rarely use it, but I do have to admit that it has a place. Here I’ve gone for a variation/compromise, laying down a very, very faint arc, rather than a full circle. I really want the sketch to be the feature, not a circle.

Object: NGC 6397
Scope: 17.5” dob, push-pull
Gear: 15mm GSO Superview, 133X
Date: June 5, 2011
Location: Sydney, Australia
Media: White soft pastel, white & black charcoal & white ink on A4 size black paper.


Alex M.

Our Star Animated

Western Prominence

2011 06 01, 1500 UT – 1630 UT
Solar h-alpha, prominences

PCW Memorial Observatory, Ohio USA – Erika Rix,
Temp: 32.3°C, Humidity 42%, SE winds 5mph
Seeing: Wilson 4, Transparency: 2/6

DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell

Sketch created scopeside with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil

There were six active regions on the Sun, but a western prominence region caught my eye as a possible CME that took place during my observation. If it was simply an erupting prominence, it was the brightest I’ve witnessed as such. I’ve created an animation of my sketch sequence that I recorded during the observation at 5-minute intervals.