Little Man Big

Homunculus Nebula 

The Homunculus Nebula is one of my personal favorites when it comes to southern
hemisphere deep sky objects. I was favored with good seeing conditions one evening
and attempted a sketch using a soft lead pencil.

The Homunculus (Latin for “little man”) surrounds the notoriously variable star Eta
Carinae. Using a 4mm Plossl with a twelve inch f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain (~760X), this
peculiar reflection nebula resembled a pale yellow bipolar planetary nebula. At
times, I thought the bipolar lobes appeared as a weak reddish color but I could
never hold the sight long enough to be certain. The disc was quite irregular in
shape and displayed much subtle detail. Eta Carinae was also of a subtle yellowish
tint. Indeed, Eta is included in the list of “red” stars compiled by George Chambers
back in the late 19th century.

The ASOD drawing was copied from the original sketch using Photoshop. The airbrush,
blurring and dodging tools were used.

Dave Riddle
Smyrna, Georgia USA

3 thoughts on “Little Man Big”

  1. Jason
    Thank you! I wish to stress that the drawing is my impression based on an observation lasting perhaps twenty minutes or so (and a second generation sketch of the small scale original).
    Since Eta Carinae never rises at my latitude, it is difficult to get additional observations to improve the drawing
    The often heard adage that “drawing an object makes you a better observer” certainly applies here. My brief field notes did little to answer my questions while I prepared the Photoshop version. But, all in all, I’m fairly satisfied with the results — and not to mention wishing I was back in Africa to make more observations of the Homunculus!


  2. Dave,

    You’re most welcome! I was wondering where you made your original observation. It’s very cool that you were able to observe those southern sky gems. As for that old adage, I agree with it completely. I often have to sketch from memory or hastily written notes, when clouds come out of nowhere to obscure my subject.

    Clear skies!

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