Majestic Swarm

NGC 5139

NGC 5139 (Omega Centauri)
Sketch and Details by Dave Riddle

My attempt to sketch Omega Centauri caused me to recall the trials faced by Frederick Catherwood, the famed British illustrator, while he tried to capture the Mayan “idols” found in Central America during the early 1800s. As recounted in C. W. Ceram’s “Gods, Graves, and Scholars”, Catherwood faced the daunting task of reproducing forms that were utterly different from any any thing he had experienced before and “for a time his crayon simply would not function.”

I spent an hour or so studying NGC 5139 before starting my sketch. Using a 12″ Schmidt-Cassegrain at 100X, prominent stars chains, clumps of stars and mysterious dark voids made their appearance. At first glance, Omega had appeared as a rather structureless oblate globe of stars.

My original graphite pencil and ink drawing was made on the evening of April 18, 2005 with rather poor seeing conditions and a waxing gibbous moon over the desert of Namibia. The submitted drawing is a Photoshop interpretation of the sketch.

Dave Riddle

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