Planet Number Six


Sketch and Details by Frank McCabe

This was my first attempt at sketching the planet Saturn while using white Conte’ crayons on black paper. Over a period of 3 hours I made 4 drawings of Saturn. The first 3 made during the first two hours looked terrible but the third one, although rough and grainy looking, came out recognizable as a ringed planet. I have nothing but the highest respect for those sketchers that regularly and beautifully draw this planet.
I could clearly see the dark planet shadow on the A and B rings. I could not hold the C ring constantly visible and so I did not include it in the drawing. The Cassini division was clearly visible but not the Encke division. Contrast between the brighter equatorial zone and the southern equatorial belt above it were easily seen. Four of Saturn’s moons were easily seen when the high thin clouds moved on. Clockwise starting above the planet in the drawing is Titan (mag.8.8), then Tethys (mag.10.7), next Rhea (mag.10.2) and finally Dione (mag.10.8). Mimas and Enceladus were in the field of view but hidden by the planets glare.
Saturn and its moon make wonderful targets for a clear night at the eyepiece of a telescope. Sketching the view just simply adds to the enjoyment.


For this sketch I used: black Strathmore 400 Artagain paper, 8”x 11”, white and black Conte’pastel crayons, an eraser shield, and a blending stump. Brightness was slightly decreased (-5) and contrast increased (+3) after scanning using Microsoft Office Picture Manager.

Telescope: 10 inch f/5.7 Dobsonian and 6mm eyepiece 241x
Date: 5-5-2008 4:00 – 5:00 UT
Temperature: 13°C (56°F)
high clouds, calm
Seeing: Pickering 6.5

3 thoughts on “Planet Number Six”

  1. Frank,

    This is the best sketch of Saturn, which I´ve ever seen.
    Your technique is really splendid.


  2. Michal and Rony,

    Thank you both for your compliments. I really enjoyed trying to capture the look of Saturn.


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