Of cloisters, comets and clusters

Comet, Star Cluster-open 

Back in the late spring of 2004 I had the opportunity to attend an astronomy
evening at the old Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO) at Herstmonceux in
Sussex, England. The weather was dreadful, stormy and rainy, when the
evening began, but by the time the lecture had finished the skies were
clearing rapidly and we were able to catch sight of Comet C/2001 Q4 (NEAT),
a fleeting visitor gracing the region of the ‘Beehive’ cluster (M44) at this
time. The comet was just visible as a naked eye object, but binoculars gave
the best view. This is a reworked pastel and acrylic sketch from my
original, very hastily scribbled graphite binocular sketch. One of the
distinctive copper observatory domes provides foreground interest.

Sketch details:

10 x 50 Zeiss binoculars

16th May 2004, 23.05 UT

RGO, Herstmonceux, Sussex, England

Coloured and white chalk pastel (plus white acrylic for the cometary nucleus
and star images) on black Canford card

Sketch size 8″ x 10″

Sally Russell

Berkshire, England

4 thoughts on “Of cloisters, comets and clusters”

  1. This is a very atmospheric celebratory sketch; pastels really work well for subtle tones such as on your observatory dome. Your M44 and Comet NEAT are crispy against the dark night sky.

    Deirdre Kelleghan

  2. Sally,

    From the copper hues of the telescope dome through the huddled white points of M-44 and blue icy comet tail of Neat, you have captured an idyllic scene indeed. Beautiful!


  3. Sal,

    What a treasure of a sketch. As I have been to the observatory a number of times seeing this transported me back there instantly. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Dee, Frank and Dale – thank you! Seeing the comet against the backdrop of the observatory domes made for a particularly special evening, and I’m really pleased now that I sketched the scene itself rather than just the astronomical targets 🙂

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