Comet and Crescent Moon at Dusk

C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) and Crescent Moon
C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) and Crescent Moon

Object: Comet PanSTARRS C/2011 L4 and Crescent Moon
Date: March 12, 2013
Time: Approx. 19:25 LST/ 02:25 UT
Location: ~2500ft or 762m atop Harquahala Mtn range near Aguila Arizona USA
Gear: Binoculars 8 x 56 6 degree FoV
Detector: Visual Sketch
Magnitude: Comet 1 Crescent Moon -5.6
Weather: Clear sky, windy at higher elevation of mountain, Temp- mid 60’s.

Hello friends of ASOD!,
It’s been quite some time since I last posted anything on this site, but I finally got in gear and produced this colorful scene. I must admit that this was by far the best view and conjunction of PanSTARRS and the Crescent Moon. I had scouted some scenic spots around the neighborhood but none gave me the Southwest look I had in mind.

Harquahala Mounatins here I come!
A mild to tracherous climb on my “4×4″ and 5 miles later at 2500ft elevation, I found what I was looking for. There in the distance of a sloping mountain stood a set of Saguaro cacti and Ocotillo trees, silhouetted against the backround twilight sky. The sketch was not made on site, it would take me forever and the setting conjunction only had another 20 to 25 minutes before it was gone. A rough sketch was in order, jotting down pertinent objects and annotating further details like; varying colors of the twilight sky, degree of earthshine on the Moon and so on.

I made I mistake!
Well, in choosing my paper grade, I got a Canson 12″ x 18” / 30 x 45 cm. with a slight texture finish on the surface. I was loving the results as I first lay down the sky colors but, later on, I was noticing that there were tiny uncolored pockets left uniformly. I continued anyhow, but it would give a hard time later when I added the comet. Some of those pockets were as big as the comet itself and would render it almost invisible. Well, I worked around it until I was satisfied. I might have given PanSTARRS one full magnitude more than necessary but, I’ll do it for the sake of showing it. Out in the field, remember, you had to squint your eyes or avertedly look for it, if you knew its whereabouts.

Dang iphone!
Convenience over quality. I cheated by not connecting my scanner to the computer and instead took a picture of the sketch. Once on my phone, I messed with the exposure and contrast to liven up the colors somewhat. I also used it to put some text at the bottom of the sketch along with my name. Well, you be the judge!

Dark and Clear Skies to all,


8 thoughts on “Comet and Crescent Moon at Dusk”

  1. Juanchin, I’m lovin the juxtaposition contrast of serene sky scene complete with cometary interloper and rugged desert landscape. I think inadvertently the textured paper has given the comet that hint of ‘trickiness’ that requires a touch of averted vision to get the best view.
    Wonderful rendition, following Frank Macabe’s masterful sketch from Arizona last week, this sure has to be the place for astronomers 🙂

    Dale Holt UK (still not seen PanSTARRS 🙁

  2. Chippingdale,

    I agree with you and the contrasting subjects but it was quite the job to render it. At times, I had to apply a darker layer on all color tones. As for Arizona being the place for astronomers, you couldn’t be any further from the truth. One of Arizona’s natural resource is, its clear dark skies! The Southwestern US with its desert climate, provides stunning clear skies almost year round.
    Yes, Frank McCabe’s sketch is phenomenal, though we didn’t bump shoulders while he was here.
    Bummer, that you haven’t had a chance to see the comet yet. I wish you better luck with the weather and hope you get to see it. Might have to use a telescope to get a better view since its receding and dimming at the same time. Here’s wishing you the best, again! 😀

    Dark and Clear Skies,


  3. Juanchin,

    You picked a great spot to make this sketch.
    The graininess adds much to the scene. You have captured the desert landscape and twilight sky perfectly. Beautiful sketch and art.

    Frank 🙂

  4. Frank and Aquarellia,

    @ Frank- I’m happy to know I’m getting some positive comments on a job I didn’t think was worth of merit. This site at the Harquahala mountains is an excellent place. I do most of my observing sessions out there .

    @Aquarellia-Everyone should’ve gotten a glimpse of the comet by now ( maybe Chippingdale too), I can’t wait to see what comet ISON will bring to us this fall.

    Thank you my good friends,


  5. Juanchin, Still no PanSTARRS chance for me in the UK 🙁

    I have observed from the Superstition mountains in Arizona, USA, one of the best experiences of my life 🙂

    Dale, Cloudy UK

  6. Chippingdale,

    And I sure bet it was a great experience! I once attended a star party there with a known radio and tv personality, Dr Sky. ( Very scenic place to do some nightime observations. Too bad the weather hasn’t cooperated in your favor. Maybe while you wait for better skies, you can enjoy this short clip I put together .

    Dark and Clear Skies,


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