Abell 70

Planetary nebula Abell 70 and background galaxy PMN J2033-0656 make a beautiful duo
Planetary nebula Abell 70 and background galaxy PMN J2033-0656
make a beautiful duo
Abell 70 and galaxy PMN J2033-0656 field details
Abell 70 and galaxy PMN J2033-0656 field details

Hi All,

Not up to the quality of recent CCD images but something I certainly found pretty
exciting Abell 70 and friend in Aquila. I know that Abdrew Robertson has taken a look
after I shared this with him, so I hope that it inspires other too.

Here is my blog that accompanies the sketch:

I have been ‘told’ reminded and prompted regarding my lack
of astronomical activity this summer! I hold my hands up, guilty as charged I
cry, there are a couple of short tales from the sky that I have failed to share
here, but in general, I have been off elsewhere! Playing harmonicas, painting, and
drawing watching bands, associating with hot rodders in my truck, playing with
bee hives, building large garden structures and generally having a good time!
OK I get the message, astronomy is not for neglecting and I feel guilty so I’m back
and will make every endeavour to keep it that way.
With a stiff talking too from my friend Keith on Sunday
evening ringing in my eyes, the clear Monday evening sky forced me into the
observatory, the cob webs were incredible; it took me a while to clear the
worst of them. I set up the scope, plugged in the leads, opened the stiff roof
sections and pointed the scope skywards. It was only dusk, but I was eager to
make amends for my inactivity, I didn’t have a target in mind, so I thought
something bright, a revisit perhaps, to ease myself back into things. I flicked
through a few of the books on the shelf for inspiration, the scope was supposedly
pointing at Altair in Aquila, so something in that constellation would be good,
short hops would keep things accurate, I thought.

Nothing so far, until I looked through Kepple and Sanner,
last image for Aquila was Abell 70, no pencil tick on it so I hadn’t observed
it previously, mag 14.5 the text said hmmmm… hardly a bright object but well
with ‘scope’ excuse the pun.
OK target object decided upon, I went indoors for my evening
meal and got back into the obsy around 20.00. I got the scope aligned on Altair,
focus was out I tweaked that, so was collimation, I tweaked that, but really
another pair of hands were needed so it certainly wasn’t spot on, but it would
do! The sky was hazy, certainly not a great night. I hopped to Abell 70 aka PK
38-25.1 via a couple of brighter stars, re-syncing at each stop. Another short
slew and I turned up the camera gain and dialled in 15sec exposure and there it
was, small in the 12’ x 12’ fov, a truly round and fairly faint ring nebula,
but what was that going on along one side, it looked like an edge on galaxy,
with a core considerably brighter that the shell ring nebulosity of Abell 70. I
looked up Abell 70 on the web and sure enough there was a distant back ground
galaxy designated PMN J2033-0656 that made this observation, unusual and
special. I increased the cameras exposure to my max of 20 seconds and made a
sketch, the increased time exposure pulled out the central star, tiny but sharp
it also showed up another star close to nebula that I wasn’t able to see at 15
secs. I didn’t use the usual BAA observing form to sketch and
record rather reaching for black art paper and rendering the ghostly ring and
galaxy using white watercolour pencil and blending stump.
I was delighted at this observation after anticipating a ‘soft’ option for my return,
I was back with a bang, catching a new object with an unexpected added attraction!
Boy I have missed this observing malarkey, thanks to all who have given me stick
over not observing

Pax stellarum, Dale

Do you want to know more about my interest in astronomy? If so take a look at my Website: http://www.chippingdaleobservatory.com/

Keep up to date with observations from Chippingdale Observatory by reading the Blog http://chippingdaleobservatory.com/blog/

Black Sun

Black Sun
Black Sun

Hi all! I present to You a sketch made by a 9yo child, Her name is Wiktoria Janowska. I met Her at the Zelow Observatory a couple days ago. She’s very, very clever n lovely little woman. Well, sometimes her fantasy dominated over realism. She saw a lot of details, maybe a little too much 😀
I hope You like it 🙂

Wiktoria Janowska, 9yo
14.11.2012, 14:30-14:41UT
Zelow, Central Poland
White watercolor crayon on black paper
Coronado PST DS (with Lunt etalon filter)+ Baader Zoom MARK III

Best Wishes!
Wiktoria Janowska & Damian Kępiński (ASTROOKIE)

The Sun for Riser

2010 July 3, 1853 UT – 1938 UT
Solar h-alpha NOAA 11084
PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA – Erika Rix

DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell
Temp: 28.8°C, Humidity 57.7%-49%
Seeing: Wilson 4, Transparency: 3/6
Clear, slight breeze, Alt: 65.6°-58.1°, Az: 231.8°-247.3°
H-alpha sketch created scopeside with black Strathmore Artagain paper,
white Conte’ crayon and pencil, black oil pencil, Prang white watercolor

It appears that I missed seeing a dual pair of CMEs (coronal mass
ejections) on the Sun today. It took at place at 1154 UT. My session
began at 1853 UT. Fantastic footage of it can be seen here by SOHO

AR 1084 still looks like a spiral galaxy (or a chicken eye with the wide
yellow/pink skin wrinkled around the pupil). A fantastic
filament/prominence reached over the limb in the SW. The filament was
thick and fibrous reaching out to the west and on either end, long and

Riser, my regular solar buddy, aka 14-year old Rhodesian Ridgeback, took
a pretty hard fall today and had to watch me observe from a distance in
the comfort of the shade at the top of the hill. He’s resting
comfortably now on a very thick duvet. Poor ol’ boy.

Best regards,
Erika Rix

H-Alpha Sun and Filaments – May 10, 2010

H-Alpha Sun - May 10, 2010
H-Alpha Sun and Filaments – May 10, 2010
By Erika Rix

2010 May 10, 1355 UT – 1610 UT
Solar h-alpha featuring filaments – Erika Rix
PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA
DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell

H-alpha sketch created scopeside with black Strathmore paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang watercolor pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil.

T: 5°C-11°C, H: 45%
S: Wilson 3, T: 3.5/6
Clear/slightly hazy, light breeze
Alt: 40.3-62.8, Az: 101-139.7

Paul had a late night imaging so I brought the dogs outside with me, puppies included, to keep it quiet in the house for him. This, of course, meant lots of extra paws running around the observatory floor instead of just the steady snoring of Riser, my regular observing buddy. The views were shaking so badly that I finally gave up and tore down the rig, resetting it back up in the grass. I should have done that to begin with I suppose since seeing wasn’t the greatest and would have been a lot worse in the observatory, especially with the temps rising so quickly after our freeze last night.

There were quite a few features to concentrate on, but what really caught my eye were two areas of filaments in the NE quadrant. The transparency and seeing were just poor enough that I really struggled with pulling any detail out of the prominences on that section of the limb. I didn’t want to miss out trying to capture them as they reached inward across the disk, forming a beautiful display of soft looking filaments. Then even further inward reaching toward the center, the details were sharper with the next set of filaments.

2010 Mar 26 Full Solar Disk

Solar Disc
Solar H-Alpha – AR11057
Sketch and Details by Erika Rix

*2010 March 26, 2033 UT.
Solar h-alpha, AR11057.

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA – Erika Rix.

DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell.
H-alpha sketch created scopeside with black Canson paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang watercolor pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil.

SW prominence at first glance looked detached. Increasing mag and waiting for steady seeing, I could make out fainter portions of the prominence that reached the limb. There were a few brighter prominence regions scattered about, but nothing of great significance, especially after the magnificent NW prominence last week.

AR 11057 stood out immediately with two dark areas and bright plage. Panning the FOV brought out another bright plage area on the WNW area just 10 deg in from limb. This could possibly be a remnant of 11056. Toward the southern-middle of the disk, brighter little clusters of plage scattered the area, as well a plage to the NW about 40 deg in from the limb. There were a few filaments but the one that really caught my eye was a wide V-shaped one to the SE. I had to tweak the Etalons to bring out the full structure of what first appeared as a single line of filament.

Rising Prominence

Prominence - April 10, 2010
Prominence – April 10, 2010
Sketch and Details by Les Cowley

For at least three days April 8-10, 2010 a large and ever-changing prominence rotated into view over the Sun’s NE limb. Its extent in solar longitude must therefore be considerable. Here is its appearance 09:00 UT on 10th April. Sketched directly at the eyepiece of a Solarmax 60 single stacked H-alpha scope 50 – 80X. Daler Watercolour, Studio and Drawing pencils on black Camford paper.

Les Cowley

Globular Cluster M 79 in Lepus

Messier 79
Messier 79
Sketch and Details by Kiminori Ikebe

M79 (NGC 1904) Difficulty level 2

Date of observation: 1997/11/02 02:10
Observing site: Kuju
Transparency/seeing/sky darkness: 3/3/3
Instruments: 32cm Dobsonian with TPL10.5 at 150x
Width of field: 0.3°

This is a mid-sized bright globular. At 150x it is finely resolved but the central region is not completely resolved. Even at 50x it is relatively well resolved. The level of concentration is rather weak. The bright central region looks pointed in three directions just like a maple leaf. The southeastern side of the center has not such extension but the outline is sharp with four stars shining outside it. A bright star off the northern side stands out. There is a conspicuous line of stars which encircles the edges of the globular and extends further to the south. This line of stars is clearly seen in photographs. This globular is full of interesting characteristics.

Sun in H-Alpha – March 4, 2010

Sun - March 4, 2010
Sun – H-Alpha – March 4, 2010
Sketch and Details by Erika Rix

2010 March 4
Solar h-alpha, Active regions 1051, 1052, 1053
PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA – Erika Rix
DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell

H-alpha sketch created scope-side with black Canson paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang watercolor pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil.

Temp: -1°C, Humidity 75%
Seeing: Wilson 4, Transparency: 4.6/6
Light cirrus, calm, Alt: 35.1, Az: 140.0

January 14, 2010 Sun

Sun - Jan 14, 2010
Sun – January 14, 2010, 2038 – 2200 UT
Sketch and Details by Erika Rix

2010 Jan 14, 2038UT – 2200UT
Solar h-alpha and white light, AR1040, Cycle 24

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA – Erika Rix

DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, ETX70-AT w/tilt plate, 21-7mm Zhumell
H-alpha sketch created scopeside with black Canson paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang watercolor pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil. White light sketch created scopeside with white copy paper, #2 pencil, 0.5mm mechanical pencil.

Sketches were rotated and flipped to match standard solar orientation. West is to the right and north is to the top.

Temp: 1.8°C-10.7°C, Humidity 61%-30%
Seeing: Wilson 4, Transparency: 3/6
Light cirrus, calm, Alt: 15.4, Az: 223.8

Two Views of M42

Messier 42, 43 and NGC 1977

M42 Trapezium
Messier 42 Trapezium
Sketch and Details by Kiminori Ikebe

M42 (NGC 1976) Ori diffuse nebula Difficulty level 1

M43 (NGC 1982) Ori diffuse nebula Difficulty level 2

NGC 1977 Ori diffuse nebula Difficulty level 3

Date of observation: 1995/01/25 22:08
Observing site: Hoshinomura
Transparency/seeing/sky darkness: 2/4/2
Instruments: 30×125 binoculars
Width of field: 1.6‹
This is the brightest and most interesting diffuse nebula among those that are visible from Japan. It shows very complex structures and extremely difficult to draw. North of this nebula a diffuse nebula called NGC 1977 is clearly visible.
NGC 1999: This nebula is relatively bright with complex structures. If this nebula was a separate object, it could attract more attention of observers.
M42: Even at this magnification the four stars of the Trapezium are resolved and a dark band intruding the bright nebulosity from the east is noticeable. There are three stars along this dark band. There is also a dark band south of the Trapezium.
M43: The star at the center stands out and the southeast side of the nebulosity is sharply defined by dark areas.

Lunar Trio

Wolf Crater
Wolf Crater

Montes Harbinger
Montes Harbinger

Schiller Crater
Schiller Crater

Sketches and Details by Dale Holt

I have assembled three sketches made at my hand over the Christmas holiday. The first caught my eye because of its shape under the illumination on the evening of observation. It struck me how it looks like a ‘love heart’ I later researched and found that this worn and likely flooded feature? Was Wolf no longer a Wolf’s den! But in my sketch perhaps a Wolf’s heart?

The second of my sketches, and personal favourite of the three is of the magnificent mountain range, Montes Harbinger, I was drawn by the brightly illuminated peaks and anthracite black, jagged and far reaching shadows reminiscent of the angry wood hungry teeth of an old rip saw!

Finally for the of my trio, completed last night it depicts the giant foot print of Schiller, seeing was good and detail plentiful, a wonderful way to spend an hour.

I hope these trio find favour with you? Drawn using my 6″ refractor in all cases & rendered with pastel & watercolour pencils upon black artist paper.

Happy New Year, Dale

Dancing on the Solar Limb

Dancing on the Solar Limb

Solar prominences on August 31st, 2009
Sketches and Details by Erika Rix

2009 August 31, 1454UT – 1625UT
Solar h-alpha prominences

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA
Erika Rix

DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell
Sketches created scopeside with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white
Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang watercolor pencil.

Temp: 23.0°C-25.0°C , Humidity 52%-38%
Seeing: Wilson 4 dropping down to 2, Transparency: 4.5/6-3/6
Clear to scattered, light winds E changing to NE
Alt: 43.7 – 55.6, Az: 122.5 – 152.5
Observed inside observatory. Seeing became very poor as the inside
warmed up.

There looked like a possible new active region forming by bright plage ~
30° in from the eastern limb. There were several prominences scattered
around the disk, and the largest areas were on the SE and SW limbs,
changing dramatically over the course of the 1.5 hr observation.

The Sun Lives!

The Sun Lives

Afternoon Prominences
Sketch and Details by Les Cowley

The sun lives! More out of hope than expectation I took an H-alpha look at the deep solar minimum sun with my Solarmax60 on the hot afternoon of August 19. Afternoons are usually a time of poor seeing, mornings before the ground and air has warmed are much better. Remarkably the image was steady and this complex prominence was evolving from minute to minute on the NW limb. Location. Sketch made at the eyepiece at 50X, 15 minute duration. Derwent Studio and Watercolour pencils on black paper.

Les Cowley
Atmospheric Optics
Optics Picture of the Day

A Brilliant 15 Day Old Moon

15 Day Old Moon

15 Day Old Moon
Sketch and Details by Erika Rix

2009 July 8, 0240UT – 0535UT
Lunar, Erika Rix
PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA
Orion ED80 w/WO dielectric diagonal, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell, 13% T moon

Lunar phase 352.2°-350.9°, 15.3-15.42 days
Temp: 17.6°C-11.7°C, H: 59%-86%
Alt: 11°02’ to 27°10’ Az: 132°18’ to 170°38’
Libr. Lat: 01°32’ to 01°24’, Libr. Long: 00°00’ to -00°37’
Seeing: Antoniadi II, Transparency: 3/6
Light cirrus, calm

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

The ray formations for last night’s (early this morning) Moon were
spectacular as was the terminator line to the east, showing specks of
rugged crater edges that looked suspended over the terminator edge.
Aristarchus and the surrounding area looked like two deep, bright gouges.

Goodbye AR 1017

Proms 052009

Solar disk in H-alpha on May 20th, 2009
Sketch and Details by Erika Rix

2009 May 20, 1410UT – 1515UT

Solar h-alpha, AR1017

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA
Erika Rix

DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell
Sketch created scopeside with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang watercolor pencil, Derwent charcoal pencil, black oil pencil.

Temp: 17.3°C-21.1°C, Humidity 50%
Seeing: Wilson 4, Transparency: 3/6
Clear with slight breeze and a little haze
Alt: 42.6, Az: 99.4

Active region 1017 is now spending its last moments on the western limb and will be leaving us soon. The plage was fairly unremarkable and faint except for a very bright portion on the leading edge of the faint filament running north to south along side of it.

The region approximately 40° in from the eastern limb has a slender, but well-defined filament that, upon closer closer inspection, branches off toward the north with a black, almost round smudge at the crook of the branch. There were contrasty areas of faint plage making streaks and mottles around the filament.

There were a few broader filaments scattered about, although soft in appearance. And the prominences were very small and scattered; however, there was on area of prominences toward the south that made a beautiful display.

Best regards,

Solar Garden


Solar h-alpha on May 15th, 2009
Sketch and Details Erika Rix

2009 May 15, 1515UT – 1625UT
Solar AR 1017

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA
Erika Rix

DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell
Sketch created scopeside with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white
Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang watercolor pencil, Derwent
charcoal pencil, black oil pencil.

Temp: 21.8°C – 25.6°C, Humidity 42%
Seeing: Wilson 4, Transparency: 4/6
Light cirrus, winds calm
Alt: 50.3, Az: 110.2

Glancing at a lower magnification with the zoom eyepiece, three main
areas of prom immediately came to view at approximately 40°, 130°, and
215° position angles. Then adjusting the outer Etalon, the plage of the
AR most westwardly popped out, followed by the eastwardly portion of it.
I’m a bit unsure if there were actually 2 active regions I was viewing
but I’ve only seen a designation for AR1017. It appeared to be two
separate active regions from today’s views.

Increasing magnification with excellent seeing conditions and the light
cirrus not bothering me, I concentrated on the prominences first and it
was then that I spotted another at approximately 280° PA. It twice as
tall as the spike in the group near 120° and spanned across 30° of limb.
It was very soft looking but I could still make out strands of structure
vertically within it – beautiful and certainly the treat of the day.

Going back to the active regions, in both areas, I could make out what I
believed to be magnetic lines. You can almost see the subtle renderings
of them in my sketch if you look hard enough. I did find myself
rendering the contrast a little more severe than true to the view, but
the details of this region were as true as I could make them through
sketch by making fine adjustments to the FOV as well as the Etalons of
my double stacked Maxscope.

Singing Bird

Proms 031809

Solar Prominences on March 18, 2009
Sketch and Details by Jeff Young

On my birthday, a little bird came up out of the sun to sing to me. Well, that’s how I fancied it anyway….

Solar prominence in h-alpha, March 18, 2009 (seeing 3/5)

Solarscope SF70 on Tele Vue Pronto @f/23, with 15mm Panoptics in Baader MkV binoviewer (110X)

White Derwent Graphitint pencil on black Strathmore Artagain paper.


Here Comes the Sun

Solar proms 030509

Solar Prominences on March 5th, 2009
Sketch and Details by Jeff Young

The sun has finally risen out of the murk here at 54°N, and I was very happy to get the white pencils and black paper out again. I did one sketch on the first of March, but, well… we’ll just chalk that one up to getting back into shape. The weather was somewhat brisk for this one, and my sketchpad even blew off my knee and into the wet grass at one point, but I was still much happier with the final result. 😉

Solar prominence in h-alpha, March 5, 2009 (seeing 2/5)

Solarscope SF70 on Tele Vue Pronto @f/23, with 19mm Panoptics in Baader MkV binoviewer (85X)

White Derwent Graphitint pencil on black Strathmore Artagain paper.

— Jeff.

Faint and Whispy or Very Tiny

Proms 022409

Solar Prominences in H-alpha Eastern Limb
Sketch and Details by Erika Rix

2009 Feb 24, 1510UT – 1600UT

Solar prominences in h-alpha, eastern limb

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA
Erika Rix

DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell
Sketch created scopeside with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang watercolor pencil.

Temp: -5.2° C, Humidity 74%
Seeing: Wilson 4, Transparency: very poor with improvement
Cirrus to the south, winds 5mph SE
Alt: 33.6, Az: 143.9

The eastern hemisphere, especially east to the northeast, was scattered with prominences. As transparency improved, details of these little prominences came to light. The most obvious set was around 90° position angle and then a squat hedgerow one around 40°. I stopped my first sketch midway and began a fresh one with a larger limb span to include the majority of them, most which were faint and whispy or very tiny.

I counted 8 more small slender ones that weren’t included in this sketch. I’m sure that given a little more time (or perhaps ambition to stay out there longer) the improvement in transparency would have revealed a few more. There was a very sharp small plage about 20 degrees in from the north limb as well as a few very hair-like filaments, particularly west, south, and east. It is reported by another solar observer that there are two new spots in that same location, indicating a new AR.

Prominence Prayer

Prayer Prom

Solar Prominences February 23, 2009
Sketch and Details by Erika Rix

Solar prominences in h-alpha, eastern limb

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA
Erika Rix

DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell
Sketch created scopeside with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang watercolor pencil.

Temp: -2.6° C, Humidity 66%
Seeing: Wilson 4, Transparency: very poor
Partly cloudy, winds 13mph from NW
Alt: 33.2, Az: 144.1

A fairly tall prominence stood out on the eastern limb that looked like a pair of hands loosely pressed together in prayer. Par for the course on these larger delicate features, they look almost detached until you concentrate on that area for a more in depth look. This is the prominence I concentrated on for the observation sketch. There was another smaller prom just north on the western limb close to a position angle of 290-300 degrees. It consisted of two arches messed together with small spikes on the limb next to them. Another slender prominence worth mentioning was located on the southern limb.

A thick, squat filament was just inside the limb about 45 degrees further south than the sketched prominence on the eastern limb.

Plasma Arches on the Western Limb

proms 021309

Solar Prominences on February 13, 2009
Sketch and Details by Erika Rix

2009 Feb 13, 1600UT – 1700UT

Solar prominences in h-alpha, western limb

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA
Erika Rix

DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell
Sketch created scopeside with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang watercolor pencil.

Temp: 3° C, Humidity 60%
Seeing: Wilson 3, Transparency: poor
Scattered, winds 7mph from NNW
Alt: 34.4, Az: 159.2

Approximately 30° inward from the eastern limb, a crescent-shaped plage was seen with a dark dot during my h-alpha observation. No AR was noted in white light. There were a few proms scattered about to the north and south, but the prominences on the western limb really stood out. At first glance it looked like two detached proms, but adjusting the outer etalon and increasing magnification, that section of limb came alive with prominence structure.

North is to the 4.5 o’clock position and west is the 2.5 o’clock position in my sketch.

Dances on the Solar Limb

Proms 2509

Solar prominences 2009 Feb 05, 1655UT – 1725UT
Sketch and Details by Erika Rix

2009 Feb 05, 1655UT – 1725UT

Solar prominences in h-alpha

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA
Erika Rix

DS 60mm Maxscope, LXD75, 21-7mm Zhumell
Sketch created scopeside with black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ crayon and pencil, white Prang watercolor pencil.

Temp: -6.4C, Humidity 49%
Seeing: Wilson 3, Transparency: poor
Mostly clear with thin layers of cirrus, Winds: 3.5mph SSW
Alt: 23.7, Az: 139.1

There was an area that I suspected was a new AR just NW of center while observing in h-alpha. It appeared to have two small plage with a single tiny sunspot to the west of them. After pulling out the ETX70 with a white light filter, all that I could see were moments of visible granulation and there were neither faculae nor pores to be seen.

To the south, in h-alpha, there was a very bright smaller prom with several tiny fingers of proms around it. Heading about 30 degrees west around the limb I noticed a thick medium sized prom that was very faint and the base of it was nearly impossible to see.

On the NW limb were two slender proms that on closer inspection it was obvious that they were actually one intricate arch of a prominence with delicate tendrils attaching at different points within it. A filament was visible to the north of it, nearly reaching to the limb.

Other than a short thick filament to the north about 15 degrees in from the limb, as well as a few tiny proms not already mentioned, I just soaked in the surface view and called it a day.

Arch of intricate Fingers

Solar Prom Collage

Solar Prominences at PA 120 degrees on February, 3rd, 2009
Sketch and Details by Erika Rix

2009 Feb 03

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA, Lat 40.01/Long -81.56 Erika Rix

What first appeared as a loop close to PA 120 degrees, became a beautiful structure with intricate fingers creating an arch. Then looking to south of it in my view (which would be heading north solar orientation wise) was a very large, faint addition to the prominence. Thankfully seeing was good enough today to increase the magnification for a closer look. It topped out close to 57x mag at Wilson’s scale of 4.

I used Strathmore Artagain, Conte’ crayon and pencil, Prang watercolor pencil. I took a photo of it in the shade rather than using the scanner. It seems to reproduce the black paper sketches best for me.

The solar graphic was from the Tilting Sun program.

A Belgium Moon Mapper and a Thirteenth Century Theologian

Mercator and Campanus

Lunar Craters Mercator and Campanus
Sketch and Details by Dale Holt

Mercator and Campanus

I scanned the terminator with my 6” refractor, looking for a feature that caught my eye just a little more than the next, that formation that shouted out “sketch me”.
I was drawn to a pair of craters on the terminator, delightfully lit by the Sun and filled with shadows of the moment.
The upper of the two craters in my sketch is Mercator named after a Belgium Moon mapper (1512-1594). It is a flooded crater of 46km diameter with a flat and smooth floor which contrasts well with the very similar sized Campanus just below which is 48km in diameter but has a central peak and more dramatic terraced walls was named in memory of Giovanni Campano a Thirteenth Century theologian, astronomer and astrologer a common combination for the time. A considerable amount of research through my lunar library has led me to identify the small but bright crater to the right of Mercator as likely to be Marth, a German Astronomer 1828-1897, illumination prevented observation of its interesting double wall.  
Telescope 6″ F9 Triplet refractor by Superscopes
Magnification 338X
Sketch made on Daler Rowney black paper with Conte Pastels, Derwent Pastle & watercolour pencils with plenty of blending stump action for effect
Dale Holt
Chippingdale Observatory

Andromeda’s Subtle Structure


Sketch and Details by Kiminori Ikebe

M31(NGC 224) And Galaxy Difficulty level: 1/5
Date of observation: 1996/10/15 02:21
Observing site: Kuju
Transparency/seeing/sky darkness: 3/2/4
Instruments: 32cm Dobsonian and XL14
Magnification: 110x
Width of field: 0.6 degree
It is interesting to observe at higher magnifications for details. It is a magnificent view with two dark lanes clearly seen. A brighter circular core is visible within the large elongated central bulge. West of the center lies a double dark lane. The regions other than the dark lanes show unevenness in brightness.

Solar Awakening

H-Alpha Sun

Solar Prominences
Sketch and Details by Les Cowley

After weeks of inactivity the sun stirred at the end of September ’08. The 28th saw a huge but faint prominence on the Southeast limb and the next morning revealed two large and bright prominences almost diametrically opposite each other on the SE and Northern limbs. They are pictured here as viewed from England through a Coronado 60mm H-Alpha single-stacked telescope at 50 and 80X. The sketches were made at the eyepiece with Derwent Studio, Watercolour (dry) and Drawing pencils on black Canford paper. A black hood blocked out extraneous light. Each had to be finished within 10 minutes because the prominences, particularly the southern one, were evolving quickly.

The Falls of Camelopardalis

Kemble’s Cascade

Kemble’s Cascade
Sketch and Details by Kiminori Ikebe

Kemble’s Cascade Cam
a line of stars

NGC 1502 Cam
open cluster

1999.12.31 01:02
10X42 Binoculars

A fine line of stars. Five to 10th magnitude stars are lined up in a straight line over a distance of about 2.5°. As it is large, 10×42 binoculars are most suitable. It is visible in a 3cm finderscope but looks partly nebulous. It stretches from the southeast to the northwest. The southeastern end of this stretch splits into two. Maybe this is where the base of the water falls is. Near the eastern end there is a bright star. With a careful look the star looks smudged at the edge. It is the open cluster NGC 1502. Near the middle of the line of the stars is the brightest star (5th magnitude); other stars are mainly of 8th magnitude. More than 20 stars are seen as a whole.

Mare Crisium

Mare Crisium

Mare Crisium
Sketch and details by Dale Holt

Mare Crisium (the “sea of crises”) is a lunar crater located in the Moon’s Crisium basin, just northeast of Mare Tranquillitatis. This basin is of the Pre-Imbrian period, 4.55 to 3.85 billion years ago. This mare is 376 miles (605 km) in diameter, and 176,000 km2 in area. It has a very flat floor, with a ring of wrinkled ridge toward its outer boundaries. Ghost craters, craters that have largely been buried under deposits of other material, are located to the south.

The crater has many notable features in and around it. The cape-like feature protruding into the southeast of the mare is Promontorium Agarum. On the western rim of the mare is the palimpsest Yerkes. The crater Picard is located just to the east of Yerkes, and northwest of Picard is the crater Peirce. Mare Anguis can be seen northeast of Mare Crisium. Mare Crisium is the site of the Luna 15 crash in 1969.

I used my 150mm F9 Triplet refractor and Denkmeier binoviewer fitted with 32mm Plossl eyepieces to view this Mare.

I captured the image on black art paper approx 125mm x 125mm using a white Conte pastel, white ‘Derwent’ watercolour pencil, white ‘Derwent’ pastel pencil, black ink pen & blending stump.

The image was scanned and reorientated hopefully to match the description above description lifted from Wikipedia.

Date of Sketch 15-Sept-2008 20.15 UT

Seeing Ant III

Mag 98x

Moon phase 99.6%

Location: Chippingdale observatory, Chipping, Hertfordshire, England

A Serpent Among the Stars

B68 and B72

Barnard 68 and 72 (The Snake Nebula)
Sketch and Details by Kiminori Ikebe

B68 Oph dark nebula Difficulty level: 3/5
B72 Oph dark nebula Difficulty level: 4/5
The Snake Nebula
Date of Observation: 2002/08/02 22:51
Observing Site: Gokase
Transparency/Seeing/sky darkness: 5/2/5
Instruments: 50cm Dobsonian and XL40
Magnification: 60x
Width of field: 1.1 degrees

These are good photographic objects but difficult visually.
There are numerous faint stars in the field, although they are not as dense as in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Against this background a dark nebula shaped ‘S’ is visible faintly. The southern part of the winding dark nebula is wide and clear. It is conspicuous because the background is bright. It is not curved smoothly but bent sharply at two places. The northern part is bent at one place. The end of the northern part is not clear. There is a small separate dark nebula visible southwest of the Snake Nebula. This is B68. This is more clearly seen than the Snake Nebula because the background is bright. It is triangular with its corners being roundish.

Luminous Lagoon


M8 – The Lagoon Nebula
Sketch and Details by Kiminori Ikebe

M8 (NGC 6523) Sgr diffuse nebula
Difficulty level 1
The Lagoon Nebula
Date of observation: 1998/05/27 03:20
Transparency/seeing/sky darkness: 3/3/4
Instruments: 32cm Dobsonian with XL21 at 70x and OIII Filter
Width of field: 0.9 degree

Complex structures are visible. There is the open cluster NGC 6530 near the center, which can be seen clearly even with the OIII filter. The brighter part of the nebula is divided into three regions. A triangular-shaped nebulosity in the southwest is the brightest with 9 Sgr (mag 6.1) shining at the center. There is a small, somewhat fainter region south of 9 Sgr. The second brightest region extend from the center to the south, which contains the open cluster NGC 6530. Between the brightest and next brightest regions lies a clear winding dark lane like a large river. The “banks of the river” is bright and a magnificent sight. At the southern end a sharp protrusion like a horn is visible. Although it is faint, the outline is sharp. North of the brightest region lies the third brightest region. It extends from the east to the west and the eastern half is bright providing a fine sight. With a close examination you can detect a faint nebulosity east of NGC 6530. It is large and looks like a very faint mist. In 10×42 binoculars, there are two bright spots side by side in the east-west direction within a narrow triangle. There is a double involving 7 Sgr at the western end of the triangle. There is a star near the center of the western part of the bright region. This star is 9 Sgr and the bright nebulosity surrounding it is clearly seen. The eastern part is rather elongated with the same orientation with NGC 6520. The globular cluster NGC 6544 is clearly seen in the southeast.

Bejeweled Ink Spot

NGC 6520 and Barnard 86

NGC 6520 and Barnard 86
Sketch and Details by Kiminori Ikebe

A dark nebula telescopically easy and an beautiful overlapping open cluster. A photograph taken by a 200mm lens shows a small dark nebula and a compact open cluster at the southern edge in addition to M8 and M20. At 110x B86 is quite clear. The field is lit up by the Milky Way stars but a dark triangular shape region to the west of NGC 6520 is quite conspicuous. It appears as if the area is literally painted black and is called the “Ink Spot.” A line of stars along the base of this triangle. A hint of a long dark nebula to the southwest of NGC 6520. This is not as conspicuous as B86; not visible with direct vision. NGC 6520 is beautiful, compact, and “lively.” Bright stars are scattered across. Faint stars are concentrated in some areas.

Dark Nebula Nexus


M20 – The Trifid Nebula
Sketch by Kiminori Ikebe

Mr. Ikebe observed and sketched this view of M20 using a 50 cm Dobsonian at 220X.

M20, The Trifid Nebula, is a famous and beautiful target for astrophotographers and visual observers alike. The red emission nebula contains a young star cluster at its center, and is surrounded by a blue reflection nebula that is most noticeable at the northern end. It’s distance is not well agreed upon, and is listed anywhere from 2,200 light years (Mallas/Kreimer) to 9000 light years (Jeff Hester). Its magnitude estimate is also wide, and is listed from 9.0 (Kenneth Glyn Jones) to 6.8 (Machholz). Part of the magnitude difficulty comes from the very bright triple-star system at the heart of the nebula.

The dark nebula that crosses the Trifid was cataloged by Barnard and listed as B 85. The object was originally cataloged by Charles Messier in 1764, when he described it as a cluster of stars.

Flocking to Scutum


Sketch and Details by Kiminori Ikebe

M11(NGC 6705) Sct open cluster
Difficulty level 1

Date of observation: 1999/10/06 20:23
Observing site: Makinoto
Transparency/seeing/sky darkness: 3/5/3
Instruments: 32cm Dobsonian with XL14 at 110x
Width of field: 0.6 degree
This is a fine and bright cluster containing many stars. At 110x it is highly concentrated but almost completely resolved. There is a 7.8-magnitude star near the center. It is very conspicuous. There are two faint stars nearby. It is a fine sight with an equal double on the south side, which is as bright as the star near the center. The distribution of the resolved stars is quite uneven. The general shape of the cluster is that of a diamond and a beautiful chain of stars is seen in the southeast outlying area. Dark areas and dense patches of stars are intermingled. There are scattered outliers northeast of the cluster. They seem to be members of the cluster.

The Sun, Pencils or Camera?

H-Alpha Sun

H-Alpha Sun
Sketch and Details by Les Cowley
Comparison Photos by Pete Lawrence

The Sun is an ever-changing target. In H-alpha light, prominences light and
dim, shift and change literally by the minute. Fascinating to watch and
sketch but just how accurate are drawings grabbed in a few minutes during
variable seeing and under a black hood?

May 7th was an opportunity to find out when Cloudy Nights held an
“International Day of the Sun”. Expert UK photographers Peter Lawrence and
Nick Howes suggested imaging or sketching a prominence every 30 minutes on
the hour and half hour!

The day dawned clear and after breakfast the selected prominence was viewed.
It was the ugliest assortment of filaments, clouds and loops that you could
imagine with parts changing and dancing about even as you watched. The
‘scope was a Coronado Solarmax60 mounted on a manual altazimuth. Seeing
started fairly good so I used an 8mm Radian, I need eyeglasses to sketch and
the Radian gives enough eye relief. The drawings were on A4 black Canford
paper filling half the sheet per sketch with Derwent Watercolour pencils
used sharp and dry.

Serious observing started about 8 minutes before each time mark with the
main proportions starting to be put in 5 minutes before the mark. Then finer
and finer details were quickly added, not in any order just wherever good
seeing happened to show them. This quickly brought the time to the mark and
then the whole view was assessed for accuracy. It was changing so fast!
Finally 3-5 minutes after the mark were spent getting the relative
intensities right and generally tidying up.

By 09:45 there were frequent periods of superlative seeing and I changed to
a 5mm Radian and clutched the dark hood around close to shield the daylight.
For long periods (but never, ever during the allocated 10 minute slots!) the
visible structures were exquisitely resolved into delicate stacked filaments
with even those sometimes doubling and breaking into knots – you would need
an hour or hours to capture all that! After 10:30 the seeing deteriorated
and that combined with not a little fatigue ended the sketching run.

Pete Lawrence was imaging some 150 miles to the south with about the same
seeing conditions. He used a Solarscope SF-70, a Rolls-Royce of H-alpha
filters. His images for the same times are on a reduced scale at the base
but you need to see the originals (http://www.digitalsky.org.uk/ and Cloudy
Nights) to really appreciate their superlative quality.

So can sketching such ephemeral objects ever be accurate? I’m still
deciding. There is maybe a tremendous amount to be leaned from a careful
comparison of sketch fragments with simultaneous photographs about how the
eye-brain interprets fine details and tends to join others into spurious
larger structures. If some of that can be understood then hopefully it might
improve the sketching accuracy.

Les Cowley, England

Hickson 44

NGC 3190

Hickson 44
Sketch and Commentary by Kiminori Ikebe

NGC 3185 Leo galaxy
NGC 3187 Leo galaxy
NGC 3190 Leo galaxy
NGC 3193 Leo galaxy

1997.01.12 01:27
32cm at 110x

A fine group of four different-type galaxies.
NGC 3185: The largest of the group, but faint and diffuse. Elongated. A fainter halo appears to envelop the galaxy, but not confirmed.
NGC 3187: Barely detectable. A long, narrow shape is barely discerned.
NGC 3190: A sharp, long, spindle-shape. The brightest of the group. A stellar nucleus and a small central condensation.
NGC 3193: Small and round. A dull glow of a stellar nucleus and very weak central condensation.

A Ring in the Bouquet


M46 (NGC 2437) and NGC 2438
By Kiminori Ikebe

From Mr. Ikebe’s observing notes:

M46 (NGC 2437) Pup open cluster Difficulty level 1

NGC 2438 Pup planetary nebula Difficulty level 3

Date of observation: 1998/11/21 03:29
Observing site: Hoshinomura
Transparency/seeing/sky darkness: 1/4/3
Instruments: 32cm Dobsonian with Er32 at 50x
Width of field: 1 degree

This is a large and bright open cluster. Even at 50x it is almost completely resolved. This fine cluster is filled with numerous pin-points of faint stars and very difficult to draw. This sketch shows it as nebulosity. There are also many bright stars embedded in this cluster. The neighboring M47 makes a good contrast with M46. M47 has fewer stars with unequal brightness. M46 presents itself as a dainty cluster while M47 shows its coarseness. Another similarly contrasting pair is NGC 2451 and NGC 2477 in Puppis. They are more contrasting than the M46 and M47 pair.

At this magnification the planetary nebula NGC 2438 is clearly seen. Its image overlapping with the open cluster is mysterious and unreal. It is rather large as planetary nebulae go. Switching to high powers a ring structure becomes clearer. This nebula is interesting by itself but it is usually viewed in association with M46 playing second fiddle to it.

(Mr. Ikebe’s sketch gallery can be found here: Visual Observation of Deep Sky Objects)

NOTE TO OUR VISITORS: Please accept my apologies for the lapse in updates for the last three days. I returned from a trip out of town to hear that Rich Handy has come down with pneumonia. He is getting some much needed rest and antibiotics and sounds like he is slowly getting better. I’ll work on keeping the posts going until he is feeling well again. Your submissions are always appreciated!

Jeremy Perez

Dances on the Limb

Prominences 021108

Solar H-alpha sketch collage 2008 02 11, 1214ST -1304ST (1714UT – 1804UT)
By Erika Rix

2008 02 11, 1214ST -1304ST (1714UT – 1804UT)

Solar H-alpha

PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio, USA, Lat: 40.01 /  Long: -81.56

Erika Rix

Temp:  14.0 °F / -10.0 °C

Winds:  WNW at 8.1 mph, light scattered and later completely overcast

Humidity:  49%

Seeing: 2/6-5/6

Transparency:  2/6

Alt: 35.9   Az: 176.9


Internally double stacked Maxscope 60mm, LXD75, 40mm ProOptic Plossl, 21-7mm Zhumell,

Sketch Media:

Black Strathmore Artagain paper, white Conte’ and Prang pencils, white vinyl eraser.

Added -25 brightness, +5 contrast after scanning in color at 300 dpi.  I then turned
the image into monochrome. I scanned initially in color to eliminate cross hashes
that the scanner creates in grayscale. Tilting Sun program used for digital Sun

At first glance in h-alpha around 10x magnification, only two prominences, SSE and
West, popped out at me.  I didn’t waste much time with the 40mm eyepiece since I
usually use it for initially getting the Sun in the FOV.  At 19x the eastern
prominence looked like two fingers curling towards each other with the southern most
of the two a little brighter.  Taking the magnifications to 57x I could make out a
very faint thin line connecting the two and also noted the strands of contrasted
prominence within the two fingers at 33x. Seeing was much worse at the higher
magnifications but I had moments where it settled for a detailed view.

Moving South at low magnification, the prominence appeared to be two separate
entities with the westerly portion of it looking like a hook or letter C opening up
to the East.  Increasing magnification with the zoom eyepiece, I was amazed to see
with slight averted vision at first several connections between the two.  After
discovering them, I could actually look at them straight on to make out the delicate
network of strands.  It was truly beautiful and very delicate.

A similar thing happened to me with the western set of prominences.  The most
northerly of the four on the western limb grew almost twice in size with a
magnification of around 33x.  The prom itself didn’t grow, but rather my ability to
see the actual size of it with a modest magnification.  The additional length of it
disappeared at 57x.

The little set of prominences at the NNE limb became brighter as the session went
and also became better defined with the lower one (more northerly) turning from a
fuzzy little thumbprint into a thin branch reaching to the one that was more to the

I noticed a dark round dot around 40 degrees on the disk from the East and pretty
much on the equatorial line.  It was very small and tweaking the Etalon did not show
any signs of plage.  Other than that, there were no significant surface details such
as plage or filaments to me visually.  The disk was alive with hairlike structures
and a mottled appearance, very pretty.