Why We Sketch

Why We Sketch

Why We Sketch
Why We Sketch
By Frank McCabe

As the sunset begins to open the view deeper into the darkness of our universe; those of us who sketch the nighttime sky are drawn out to our favorite targets for a view of the glory. Why do we sketch the stars, galaxies, nebulae, planets, moon and in the daytime the sun? We do it because it is a most creative outlet for our interest in astronomy. It is a proactive way to improve our visual observational enjoyment. As a result of sketching we create for ourselves a more critical observers eye and take deeper, longer looks at the multitude of visible targets in this universe we all share.
Astrophotography is another avenue often pursued by the amateur observer but with sketching there is an attempt to duplicate the view at the eyepiece which is not the same as a captured photographic image. The differences are all well and good with many amateurs enjoying one or the other or both.
With a sketch we have a visual hand drawn record which can be used to supplement a written log. It can bring us right back to a specific observation in the years ahead. We also have many choices of media to record what we see, including traditional types and electronic as well. Sketching is fun and challenging and we don’t need any special skills to get started.
If you feel as I do, you take great pleasure in seeing the many sketches posted here and elsewhere by astronomers from around the world sitting or standing at the eyepiece of an instrument or even without one recording the beauty they see in the nighttime sky.
This is my tribute to sketchers here and elsewhere sharing our personal view of the heavens.


Naked eye drawing
Sky conditions were good for transparency
Date and Time: 5/12/2010; 2:25 -2:55 UT
9″ x 12″ white Strathmore Windpower smooth Bristol paper, # 2HB, # 4HB graphite pencils, powdered brown and yellow Crayola colored pencils, light blue colored pencil, white Conte’ pastel, gum eraser.
After scanning the drawing was cropped and inverted Using Microsoft Office Picture Manager, brightness was increased +1 during scanning.

Frank McCabe

10 thoughts on “Why We Sketch”

  1. My friends,
    I sketch for these reasons:
    – catch the beauty of sky (Is it possible?!?)
    – test myself (Do I really see or not this object?)
    – show others, what could they see
    – compare me to others
    – what to do all night long… πŸ˜‰
    And what about you?

    PS. Frank, this is fine draw.

  2. Thank you all for your comments.
    I was sitting on the ground with the small telescope sitting on a table as I sketched.


  3. Yes Frank astronomical sketch is the sum of subjective impressions, received by our brain, kind of four-dimensional look ;).. It is also the sum of the subtle captured detail, dependent on air masses (over our observatory), and “jumping” seeing :). This is not the technical documentation We are artists ..

    Frank Your sketch very impressional πŸ™‚ !

  4. Frank what can I say that hasn’t already been said on the subject of this lovely, warm and romantic astronomers sketch?

    OK…. I now have it as my screen saver, I can say no more.

    Dale, England

  5. Frank,

    Well spoken and well drawn. The only thing I would add is..after one gains some experience and confidence, it’s as natural to draw an observation as it is to log it with words.

    Michael Rosolina

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