This morning was the first clear sky I have seen in 2 weeks. Although it did not clear-off until after morning twilight began, I’ll take what I can get and be happy I got a chance to sketch the Moon as it prepares to end this lunation and begin the next.
At 4:30 am CDT the waning crescent moon struggled to 30 degrees above the eastern horizon as I began sketch it. By the time I had finished the sun was up and morning was well underway.
For this sketch I used blue construction paper 9″ x 12″, white Conte’ pastel pencils, blending stumps, a White Pearl eraser, brush and blue Crayola colored pencils. Brightness was slightly increased (+1) using the scanner
Scope 4.25” f/5 Newtonian scope with a 12mm Plossl eyepiece at 46x riding on an equatorial platform
Date: 6-26-2011, 09:30-10:30 UT
Temperature: 18° C (65° F)
Seeing: Antoniadi III
Lunation: 24.52 days
Illumination: 23.8% Waning Crescent
Lunar craters Mairan, Sharp, Harpalus and the Jura Mountains Sketch and Details by Frank McCabe
The lunar feature known as the Jura Mountains includes the rim of the Sinus Iridium impact and is visible here in late day sunlight. The debris field can be seen extending westward to Mare Frigoris. All of Sinus Iridium is in shadow which gives this region an unfamiliar appearance. The impact that created the large mountainous debris field occurred during the Upper Imbrium period (3.8 billion years ago). Some of the mountains are a lofty 5 kilometers high. Superimposed on these mountains are two forty kilometer complex craters known as Mairan and Sharp; another similar sized crater can be seen on Mare Frigoris and is called Harpalus (39 km.). At high sun this crater shows a bright young crater ray system in addition to a fine glacis. There are 3 pillow-like features to the far left in the sketch at the edge of the Iridium ejecta. The two that are closest together are the famous large lunar domes known as Gruithuisen Gamma and Delta.
It is always worth while when not expecting a rigorous day ahead to get up a little earlier than usual to see what is going on in the sky before sunrise. This is especially true when the sky is clear and very transparent.
For this sketch I used: black Canson paper 9″x 12″, white and black Conte’
pastel pencils , and Conte’crayons, a blending stump, plastic and gum erasers. Brightness was decreased -2 using the scanner for this sketch
Telescope: 10 inch f/ 5.7 Dobsonian with 9mm (161x) eyepiece
Date: 11-12-2009 11:00-12:00 UT
Temperature: -3°C (27°F)
Clear to partly cloudy, calm
Seeing: Antoniadi III
Co longitude 212.7°
Lunation days 25.27
Planet Venus near to the Sun Sketch and Details by Frank McCabe
At about 2 pm local time my sky had cleared well enough to make an attempt to track planet Venus down during this early afternoon. The low humidity high pressure atmosphere that was overhead made this observation possible. Venus was about 13° North and 3° to the East of the sun and I knew I could safely block the sun from reaching my eyepiece using a large pine tree to block out the solar disk. Venus at the time of the observation was about -4th magnitude and 2.5 % illuminated. The disk of the planet was about 59” of arc in diameter and only 0.29 AU (27 million miles) from earth.
4.25″f/6 Newtonian 6mm eyepiece 107x
For this sketch I used: blue construction paper, 11″x 9″, a white Conte’ pastel crayon and a blending stump, for templating the planet as a circle I used a lens cap. Brightness and contrast were slightly increased (+2) after scanning.
Date: 3-21-2009 7:00-7:15 UT
clear skies, few clouds
Large numbers of greater sandhill cranes flying north
January Waxing Crescent Moon Sketch and Details by Frank McCabe
January Waxing Crescent Moon
As January comes to a close, I must say I am happy to see it going away. We have been having a cold and snowy winter so far with very few clear nights. However tonight I saw the sunset with Venus appearing about the same time and a beautiful two and one half day old crescent moon about 7% illuminated. As twilight deepened the earthshine presented itself quite well. Temperatures here near Chicago remain well below freezing so I made this observation out my kitchen bay window without the benefit of optical aid. By the time I gathered my sketching material the moon was already beginning to sink behind a few basswood trees along my line of sight. The moon was impressive and the comfort of indoor warmth made for ideal sketching climate.
Naked eye sketch out a large window
For this sketch I used: dark blue construction paper, 11”x 9”, white and black Conte’pastel pencils and a blending stump, for templating the moon as a circle I used a salt shaker bottom.. Brightness was slightly decreased after scanning.
Date: 1-28-2009 11:10-11:40 UT
Lunation: 2.64 days
Illumination: 7 %
On Saturday October 18, 2008 at 8:00 am local time, I was out walking in east Mesa, Arizona on a gorgeous morning with the air temperature about 22°C (72°F) and the humidity in the high teens. Over in the western sky the 19 day old waning gibbous moon was riding high and bright in a remarkable deep blue sky. Never in my life have I seen such a bright daytime moon. I stopped in front of a nearby building roof with a tall palm tree on the other side. I took out of the folder I was carrying an index card and using a pencil I drew the moon on one side and the building roof and palm tree on the other side. I jotted down some notes on colors and positions. When I got back home to Illinois, I combined the pencil drawings and notes into a mixed media sketch. For the moon I used pastel pencils (white and black) and for the building and palm tree I used Cray-Pas oil pastels on deep blue construction paper. Of course the view was much better than I am capable of capturing but I will never forget the treat of this perfect morning.
Naked eye drawing
Date and Time: 10-18-2008 8: 00 am PST
Location: Power Road and Broadway Ave. Mesa, Az.
Moon at 19 days, high in the western sky.
For this sketch I used: dark blue construction paper, 10”x 8”, white and black Conte’pastel pencils and a blending stump. Also cray-pas oil pastels for the building and tree. This sketch was put together from pencil sketches and notes made at the time of the observation.
Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught)
10 January 2007 2255 UT
Cold Knob, WV USA
Conte’ Crayon on textured pastel paper
For me, getting a look at the famous Comet McNaught was not easy. I had tried and failed two days earlier at sunset when trees and houses blocked the view and it was rapidly sinking lower each evening–in a couple more days it would be gone for observers in the Northern Hemisphere.
Determined to see this comet before it disappeared, I trekked to the top of a nearby mountain to get a clear view of the western horizon and set up my binoculars. It had snowed 6 inches the night before, but now it was clear. Before the end of civil twilight, the comet popped into view. As the orange winter twilight progressed, McNaught took on the appearance of a burning ember just above the horizon.
The sketch is taken from a graphite pencil sketch I did in the field. The most notable features at 10x were the bifurcated tail extending about 30 arcminutes to the northeast and the very bright coma. The comet against the orange background of sunset was unforgettable. I have seen many images of McNaught in magazines and online that were taken on the evening of January 10th and they all show that orange winter sunset.
Of course, Comet McNaught went on south to become the brightest comet in 41 years, visible during daylight, and with a tail so long that it extended back to the northern hemisphere. But I saw it before it became famous.