Above the Great Sand Sea of Namibia


47 Tucanae
Sketch and Details by Dave Riddle

It has been said that if we used all our senses to the fullest, we would stand in a constant state of amazement. Perhaps a telescope is merely a way to extend one of our senses — the gift of eyesight. I have come to appreciate how fortunate I have been to fulfill a few of childhood dreams. When the opportunity arose back in 2004 to visit Africa and take a five day road trip from Johannesburg, South Africa to the Great Sand Sea of Namibia, I jumped at the chance. I would spend eight weeks at the Sossusvlei Mountain Lodge under what must be some of the darkest skies found on our planet. The chance for daylight sightseeing combined with exploring the night skies of the southern hemisphere proved too much to resist…I’ll argue that the celestial wonders visible through a telescope are just as impressive as some of the other natural wonders seen along the way — the Augrabies Falls of S. Africa, the herds of elephants or the remarkable sand dunes of Sossusvlei. Submitted is a Photoshop rendering of 47 Tucanae, arguably the finest globular the heavens can offer. I used a 12″ Schmidt-Cassegrain at 250X to make the original graphite pencil and ink.

Dave Riddle

3 thoughts on “Above the Great Sand Sea of Namibia”

  1. Dave, this is an astounding illustration. Great work combining the eyepiece drawing with the digital tools that made for such a detailed image. I know you submitted a larger image than this, but it looks like we inadvertently uploaded a low-res version. We’ll sort that out and get the larger one uploaded as soon as possible. [edit: looks like it’s there now–thanks Rich!]


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