Sunny side up


The Sun with ARs 953 & 954

After many frustrating weeks of poor conditions, things finally let up long enough
for me to catch a few sketches of the Sun with its (also long-awaited) recent
sunspot activity. These sister ARs are quite impressive, and 953 is the largest I’ve
seen in my short observing career. I can’t wait for Solar Maximum! -æ

(Sketches done in graphite pencil (HB & 3B) on 70# sketch paper.)

Andrew English

Schiller Sextet

Schiller Sextet 

 This composite image started out as a single white pastel on black paper
sketch posted on the ‘Cloudy Nights’ sketching forum. As the discussion
around it evolved, other Cloudy Nighters posted their own sketches of this
distinctive crater, and I began to construct the montage seen here in it’s
final form. It is fascinating to see the same lunar feature captured in so
many different styles and with different media. Between us we have covered
nearly three years of Schiller observations, each at around the same
lunation stage of 11-12 days when the local lighting is advantageous and
dramatic. The sketching media used varied between white pastel (or Conte’)
on black paper, and graphite pencil (or charcoal) on white paper.

Equipment used (and magnification):

Sally Russell, 105mm F/6 refractor, 480x
Michael Rosolina, 8″ F/10 SCT, 200-170x
Rich Handy, 12″ SCT, 639x
Eric Graff, 6″ F/6 reflector, 240x
Jeremy Perez, 6″ F/8 Newtonian, 240x
Erika Rix, 70mm ETX, 88x

(With the kind permission of Michael, Rich, Eric, Jeremy and Erika, and with
my thanks to them for generously sharing their sketches and making this
project possible.)
Sally Russell


About 4.6 billion years ago, few million years after the formation of the proto Earth from the accretion of planetesimals in the nascent Solar nebula, our still molten world would suffer an impact from a another Mars sized protoplanet that would tear almost one fifth of the Earth’s crust and mantle away and scatter a debris cloud into Earth orbit. Soon thereafter this material would coalesce into the early Moon, the building of which would continue as major impacts accumulated over the next few billion years. Although at this time in our early Moon’s past much of the debris had already been swept clear of its orbital path, a close look at Luna herself would have revealed several stragglers, moons of our Moon in close tow. Jostled and buffeted by gravitational forces, these moons were either lost to space, impacted the early Earth, or were pulled inexorably until they plummeted to the lunar surface. Such impacts from degraded orbits share a common attribute, not only on the Moon, but on the other bodies of the Solar System as well. They all show an extremely shallow impact angle, usually in the range of 2 to 3 degrees to the surface. When such a moon strikes a body it will impart most of its kinetic energy longitudinally along its path, carving out a long elliptical shaped crater and sending ejecta laterally across the range. Working in tandem with these very oblique impacts are the tidal stresses that can break apart a small moon, thereby lengthening the “footprint” of the event by allowing space between successive strikes, much as seen in secondary crater chain formation.

Between 3.85 and 3.92 Billion years ago during the Nectarian epoch, one small gleaming moon was tugged and pulled, probably influenced by various mascons that had already developed in the gravitational field of the Moon. Falling out of orbit, it would follow a trajectory that would take it around the far side for the last time. As the little moon fell, tidal stresses split it into two or three large pieces, which traveled together as they continued their descent over the limb and around the southwest highlands, over the craters Gruemberger, Blancanus and finally Scheiner, where they impacted into the Zucchius-Schiller basin, creating the very oblong 174 km x 69 km crater, Schiller. Over the course of the next several hundred million years the flow of mare lavas would fill the basin and the floor of the long deep gouge, covering some the evidence of the violence of this event. So next time you are gazing at the Moon’s southwestern quadrant, stop by Schiller and remember when our Moon had moons.

Rich Handy
Poway, California

Seaside Crater


Gassendi is my favourite crater due to its many varied features.  This
crater has it all, with central peaks, craterlets,  internal rilles, 
and a breached crater wall where the Sea of Moisture has flooded in.  
It also  borders onto a rough highland region. You can spend a lot of
time just taking in the whole view let alone trying to sketch it.  In
fact the biggest problem that one faces when doing lunar sketches has to
be deciding on the level of detail to include.   Sketch was done April
30/2004  using graphite pencils, black ink and whiteout on white
paper.   Telescope was a 6″ Maksutov Newtonian with binoviewer 20mm
eyepieces and 2x barlow.

Gerry Smerchanski
Teulon, Manitoba, Canada

Tale of the Swan

Comet M4 Swan

SWAN M4 Comet

24th October 2006. around 18:30 UT
Novo Cice, Croatia
This sketch was created on plain A4 paper using graphite pencils and
fingers (for blurring). Later it was scanned and inverted in Photoshop
after some minor contrast and brightness adjustments.
I used 8″ F6 Dobson, and GSO WideAngle 15mm eyepiece. Magnification was
80x and field of view around 0.8°. Limiting magnitude was 5.30 and
transparency was good. Comet was very bright and obvious in finder and
it was near M13. In eyepiece it was real showpiece. Head of comet was very bright,
teal and with star like nucleus. Very faint tail was visible running from the
head of the comet. Estimated length of tail was around 1°. Probably the
most magnificent comet in the year 2006 that I had opportunity to observe.

Vedran Vrhovac

A photogenic pair

Theophilus and Cyrillus at Sunrise 

Theophilus and Cyrillus at Sunrise

Sketched over a 1.5 hour period at the eyepiece on Sunday April 22,
2007.  (2:30 to 4:00  UT 23/04/2007)   More time spent afterwards
colouring in shadow regions etc.  Done with graphite pencils (4H to
4B),  black ink and whiteout on white paper.   Scope was Celestron
9.25,  binoviewer,  2x barlow,  and 24mm eyepieces.  Picture was
reversed left to right once scanned to give a upright and correct
left/right view.

At the public star party last month (March) with the moon at the same
phase, I used a similar scope setup trained on these same craters to
illicit some “oohs”  and “wows” from the crowd.   After spending most of
the time looking at these craters I realized that the pair was quite
‘photogenic’ and would make for a nice sketch.    This month,  they were
even more strategically placed to reveal the terrain.  The smaller
crater Madler was also quite interesting and included.    One thing that
made this sketch a bit out of the ordinary was the unusual interior to
Cyrillus which has some unusual landscapes near the border with
Theophilus.  The light and shadows between Theophilus and the terminator
was also unusual and complicated.  My first sketch in over a year; it
seems I’m slowing up.  Taking this much time to capture all the details
is not the best for accuracy on transient lighting on lunar features.

Gerry Smerchanski

Shadow on the cloudtops

Jupiter/Io Shadow Transit 

Jupiter/Io Shadow Transit

With its large apparent diameter, turbulent belts and zones, and Great Red Spot,
Jupiter is a fascinating object to observe.  This fascination goes up another notch
when one of the four Galilean moons makes a transit across the Jovian disk.

A transit occurs when the orbit of one of Jupiter’s moons takes it across the face
of the planet as seen from our vantage point here on Earth.  The moon itself can be
hard to detect, but the inky black shadow that it casts on the planet’s cloud tops
is easily seen with most telescopes.

In the hour of time recorded in the sketch, Jupiter is rotating from left
(following) to right (preceding).  Because the Great Red Spot happened to be visible
during the transit, the observer can get a sense of the incredible rotational speed
of this giant planet–one complete rotation about every ten hours!

The sketch was done at the eyepiece with 2B, HB, and 9B pencils on Strathmore 400
series 80 lb. paper.

Michael Rosolina

Observational Data:

Time: 23 May 2006  0300-0400 UT
Telescope: 8″ (20cm) SCT f/10
Magnification: 254x & 200x
Filters: Wratten #11, #56, #80A, & IL
Seeing: 4-5/10 (Pickering)
Transparency: 4/6
System II: 102° & 138°
Altitude: 35°
Diameter: 44.2″
Magnitude: -2.5

Kiss of the spider

The tarantula Nebula 

NGC 2070 (30 Doradus) The Tarantula Nebula

Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud in Southern Skies, the Tarantula
Nebula has an apparent magnitude of 8 and is about 160,000 light years

The exciting thing about ‘The Tarantula’ is that it is a nebula in ‘another
Galaxy’. If it was as close to us as the Orion Nebula is, it would fill 60
degrees of the sky and far outshine Venus!

It is named ‘The Tarantula’ due to it’s appearance being like a giant

Drawn with number 3 pencil on white art board, scanned and inverted in
Photoshop CS.  Red Hue added in Photoshop CS.
Date Drawn: 2006 while observing Tarantula through a 12″ reflector with a
32mm 2″ Erfle Eyepiece.

Ken James
Snake Valley, Australia

Over a scarlet limb

Over a scarlet limb 

Easter Parade

A Photoshop rendering of the solar limb as seen with a 70mm refractor (a “Pronto”)
using a 40mm Coronado H-alpha filter and a 12mm Nagler (~40x).

The dynamic chromosphere of our Sun seldom fails to surprise me. A quick setup to
look at the Sun last Sunday (April 8th at local noon) turned into an hour-long
observing session when my telescope revealed a small eruptive prominence.
Unfortunately, the seeing wasn’t as good as it sometimes can be so I patiently
waited for steady moments. Over a hour’s time the “spire” prominence slowly changed
shape with structure — knots — brightening and disappearing.  A small hedgerow
prominence (not seen in my drawing) remained virtually unchanged.

This is my first attempt at running one of my rough pencil sketches through
Photoshop. I hope, with time and practice — and better seeing — I can improve
my drawings.

Dave Riddle

The turbulent flower

The turbulent flower

Information about sketch:
Sketch is of M20 – the Trifid Nebula
Done on the 23rd of September last year
Drawn completely at the eyepiece of a 12.5″ f6 dob using a 13mm T6 Nagler
for around 143x.  It was done on white sketch pad paper using a graphite
pencil.  The sketch was then scanned and converted to the negative in
Andrew Durick
Brisbane, Australia