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


Darkness over Swansea

Darkness over Swansea 

The lunar eclipse of March 2007 fell over midnight of the 3rd and 4th,
the Moon being in Leo, and in the mouth of the Lion was the planet Saturn. The
sketch is based around 00.30 hours UT, sketched at the top of 600 foot high Kilvey
Hill. The path leading to the summit has a cluster of communication masts on one
side and a Bronze Age burial chamber, now only just visible above the surface, on
the other side. Standing there between the two, looking at the eclipse with the
City of Swansea spread out below, all was very quiet and for once it was a very
clear sky. It felt like a scene out of the fifties TV sci-fi series ‘Quatermass’.
 
J.E. Thomas

Category: Moon – Total Eclipse
Title:  ‘Darkness Over Swansea’
Media: Conte Pastel Pencil on Black Camford Paper
Size: 142 kb


Fire in the sky

The Flame Nebula 

I used a Watec 120N deep sky video camera running through a Synta 6″ F5 refractor to display a real time image of ‘The Flame Nebula’ NGC 2024 on a TV monitor. This image was Superior to that at the eyepiece of my 14″ F5 Newtonian on which the refractor rode even when employing a UHC filter!

Using light weight black card, white watercolour pencils and blending stumps I attempted to record the spectacle as best I could, resulting in this scanned and totally unprocessed image.

Dale Holt


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
distant.

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
spider.

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
Irfanview.
 
Cheers
 
Andrew Durick
Brisbane, Australia


Thinking outside the circle

Virgo Cluster

Virgo Cluster panorama

This sketch was made from McDonald Observatory’s parking lot near Fort
Davis, Texas, during a trip down south. I used a 14.5″ Dobsonian and 26mm
Plossl eyepiece, and graphite on paper (reversed in Photoshop for effect). I
had prepared circles for sketching, but we ran into a streak of 6 clear
nights and I ran out, and had left my circle template back in Winnipeg. I
decided to just start sketching without the boundary of an eyepiece filed
and see what happened.  I really like the wide-field effect of not using an
eyepiece FOV circle – especially for clusters that need to be seen in
context.

Scott Young


When an iron heart stops beating

M1 Crab nebula

Messier 1
Meade Lx90 10″
167x
Seeing/Transparancy- Average
NELM- 5.8
Medium- Graphite

Sal Grasso

In the year 5,246 B.C., a star with a mass about three times that of our Sun was losing its life-long struggle with gravity. It had burned the hydrogen and helium in its core long ago and had begun burning ever more heavy elements until it reached iron, an energy absorbing reaction. Without the radiative core emitting enough energy to sustain a balance between gas pressure and gravitation, there was to be only one result. The crushing weight of the star’s atmosphere would collapse upon its iron core. The rebound energy would then produce a titanic explosion that would blow the star’s atmosphere into space and produce an intensely ferocious burst of neutrinos, gamma, x-ray and optical radiation. As it happened the stellar core would collapse even further (via implosion) and the electrons would be forced into very close proximity to protons, causing them to become neutrons. Only neutron degeneracy, an aspect of the Pauli  Exclusion Principle and the star’s initial mass prevented the runaway collapse to a black hole.  In this compact state, a city sized 10 km sphere contains the entire mass of the Sun and rotates at a dizzying 30 times per second. Retaining a strongly intensified magnetic field, it sends pulses of radiation from its magnetic poles at very regular intervals as it rotates.   

Six thousand three hundred years later, in 1054 A.D., Chinese astronomers took note of the position of a visitor star in the constellation of Taurus, the Bull. 953 years later, this visitor star is now seen as an expanding cloud of gas fully 12 light years wide. The rate of expansion is actually faster than the calculated rate for a free explosion, a result that indicates the intense magnetic environment accelerates electrons to relativistic velocities thus providing the energy for this “accelerated” expansion. Current measurements indicate that the complex filaments that thread the nebula are expanding at approximately 1000 meters per second.       


A satellite runs through it

 The Sun with AR923 & 924

The Sun with AR923 & 924

The Sun in white light with active regions 923 & 924: November 19, 2006
100mm achromat refractor with 10mm Plössl e/p & MV filter for contrast.
From Albuquerque, NM (36N 106W).

(2nd frame: mysterious satellite transit at 2132UT; RA 15:40:32, Dec. 19° 35.15′)

Sketch medium: graphite on paper.

Andy English


On the edge of a fertile sea

Langrenus and the Sea of Fertility 

Langrenus at the Edge of the Sea of Fertility

With the Harvest moon just past and the shadow of the setting sun approaching the eastern shore of the Sea of Fertility, crater Langrenus stands out in all its glory. Langrenus is an Eratosthenian Period crater, between one and three billion years old. This crater is about 133 km. in diameter with a rim 2.6 km. above the bright, mostly flat floor. Mountain peaks near the center stand 1 km. high. Rays from the crater can be seen projecting in a westward direction across the Sea of Fertility. Much older (four billion plus years) and slightly larger than Langrenus to the south along the terminator is the crater basin Vendelinus. The walls of this crater were dealt crushing blows delivered by the impacts that created craters Lohse, Lame  and Holden which are drawn clockwise from north to south. Many additional smaller crater impacts on Vendelinus attest to the age of this old battered basin.

More than 400 km. to the northwest, grazing angle impaction created the craters Messier and Messier A. These craters exhibit a long pair of rays extending westward across the remainder of the mare. Note the perpendicular (north-south) rays centered on Messier. Laboratory experiments have demonstrated this pattern of so called “butterfly rays” can be duplicated with shallow angle high speed impacts.

Frank McCabe

Sketching:
For this sketch I used: white copy paper 6”x 8”, and a 2HB graphite pencil
at the eyepiece with the addition of marker ink to darken shadows indoors.

Telesccope: 10 inch f/ 5.7 Dobsonian and 9mm eyepiece
Date: 10-9-2006 5:00-5:45 UT
Temperature: 10°C (50°F)
Clear
Seeing:  Pickering 5
Co longitude: 114 °
Sunset longitude: 66.1° E.
Lunation:  16.8 days
Illumination:  94%


A Glow In The Night

M94 

Messier 94 is a beautiful galaxy in the constellation of Canes venatici;
with a distance of 17 million light years and a diameter of 56000 light
years, it contains about 60 billion sun masses. M 94 is a starburst galaxy.
The conditions, when I observed it, were very good, good transparency
and seeing, so I was able to clearly discern a stellar core, a brighter
inner and a darker outer halo. All of this was embedded into a faint and
distant glow, which faded into nothing at the outer rim.

Sebastian Lehner

Date: March 16, 2007
Location: Steinwald, Bavaria, Germany
Instrument: Dobsonian 8″ f/6
Constellation: Canes venatici
Seeing: I-II of VI
Transparency: I of VI
NELM: 6m4
Magnification:133x
Sketch Medium: White pastels and white ink on black cardboard.


Colorful Red Planet

Mars Pencil sketch PSCS Mars sketch

These are sketches created by hand and processed with Photoshop CS after being
scanned. I use graphite pencil and colored pencil on white paper.

Naturally some of these are based on looking at astrophotography, for more details.
Here are two sketches. The one is by hand and the other after being scanned and
processed with Photoshop.

With this method, I’ve created sketches of the Sun Prominences, and other objects of
the Deep Sky..

Basic equipment used: My Telescopes, ETX-125 5″/ LX 200R 8″/ and my
PST/Coronado/SolarMax 40/TMax Filter- Double Stacked.(For the Sun Sketches)

Scanner, EPSON PERFECTION 3490 PHOTO. ToUcam PRO
II-DSI-c..and my SBIG (recently) ST-2000XM.!!

All the Best from Athens

22 March, 2007

Peter Desypris


Buried treasure in a deep Lagoon

M8 the Lagoon nebula 

M8 was on my list of “ambitious” sketches to draw (or redraw) for a  couple years before I finally managed to tackle it. On my first attempt, I got skunked by clouds before I could finish the star field. I came back a couple nights later, and the outflow of clouds from a thunderstorm to the east threatened to bring things to a halt again.  But I was patient and managed to wait out the weather.

This is such a rich and well-lit nebula/cluster, that it’s hard not to  just relax and feast on its visual delights. But I had decided I was going to turn this one into a project. I wanted to capture the cluster and field stars as accurately and deeply as possible. This in itself  can be a pretty tedious process, but the regular blackouts caused by interloping clouds made it very aggravating. Especially since I was doing the observation pretty late in the season, and Sagittarius was threatening to set on me. Observing shouldn’t be aggravating. Tedious from time to time, sure. But not aggravating. I was being stubborn 
though, and I kept plugging along. An hour and 40 minutes later I was satisfied I had captured all I could, and as if on a merciful queue,  the clouds went ahead and made a permanent home over the southwestern  sky.

Something I find very interesting about the embedded cluster NGC 6530  is the grid-like geometry of its stars. It seems to bear an amplified kinship to the squared angles of M29–a junior sized favorite of mine.  The UltraBlock (~UHC) filter does a great job of defining the boundaries and clots of brightness in the nebula, but I find the unfiltered view to be the most pleasing. Without the filter, the view is thickly seasoned with Milky Way field stars and the members of the open cluster just seem to nestle and burn themselves in their folded blanket of nebulosity. I noted some star color in a few places, and these are depicted in the sketch.

I created the base for this sketch on Strathmore sketch paper using 2H  graphite for the initial star field. I then switched to HB graphite for the brighter stars. I then brushed in the nebulous regions with a blending stump loaded with graphite. Afterward, I replotted any stars that were blurred or diminished by the blending process.

After scanning the sketch and inverting it from negative to positive, I used a soft, transparent brush to add glow around the brighter stars. I then used a soft, transparent brush set to ‘color’ mode to  apply color to the stars I had noted during my observation. Although I  believe it is possible to overwork a sketch with digital tools, when care is taken not to overdo it, I’ve found these extra techniques very useful. In this case, I believe it helps to pop the brighter stars out as they appeared in the eyepiece. I feel it was particularly helpful for the core cluster stars that nestle in the nebula. In my opinion, that extra bit of glow helps merge them with the nebula and conveys the sense that they really are lighting it up, as it appeared through the telescope. Finally, the perception of color is an important part of my observations, and I feel that careful addition of color on the computer can handle this very nicely.

Object Information:

There are two main objects that compose this object. NGC 6530 which is the open cluster of stars, discovered in 1680 by Flamsteed. The nebula that these stars are imbedded in, NGC 6523, was discovered by Le Gentil in 1747. When Charles Messier catalogued it in 1764, he primarily described the cluster, and mentioned the nebula separately as surrounding the star, 9-Sagittarii. However, the nebula is now generally regarded as M8.

The distance to M8 is believed to be from 4850 to 6500 light years. If the distance given by David Eichler of 5200 light years is correct, then the nebula measures 140 x 60 light years across. The brightest portion of the nebula contains a region known as the Hourglass Nebula, which is region currently undergoing new star formation. There are also a number of dark nebulae known as globules in the Lagoon. These are collapsing protostellar clouds with diameters of about 10,000 AU.

Subject:        M8/NGC 6523, 6530
Classification:        Diffuse Nebula and Open Cluster
Position:        Sagittarius [RA: 18:03:41.2 / Dec: -24:22:49]*
Size*:        90′ x 40′
Brightness*:        bMag 5.0
Date/Time:        August 19, 2006 – 10:45 PM MST (August 20, 2006 – 05:45 UT)
Observing Location:        Anderson Mesa, AZ
Instrument:        Orion SVP 6LT Reflector (150 mm dia./1200 mm F/L)
Eyepieces/Mag.        32 mm Sirius Plössl (37.5X)
Seeing:        3/10 Pickering
Transparency:        Mag 6.8+ NELM
*Sources:        SEDS, NGC/IC Project


Extragalactic Twins

Extragalactic Twins 

The interacting galaxy pair consisting of NGC 3166 and NGC 3169 is one of the unsung extragalactic showpieces of the spring sky.  They may be located in the north-central region of Sextans, 8.5° south of Regulus.  Separated by 6.3′, these two galaxies look like nearly identical twins in my 6-inch scope; they give the strong impression of a ghostly pair of eyes peering from beneath a star-studded hood.  NGC 3166 is slightly smaller and dimmer than its companion but it has a more conspicuous central region with a sharp stellar nucleus.  NGC 3169 also has a bright core but it is not as well concentrated as its neighbor’s.  A 12th magnitude star is superimposed on NGC 3169’s diffuse outer halo, just east of the central core.  With a magnification of 60x and placing NGC 3169 near the northeastern edge of the field of view I can just squeeze in the faint galaxy NGC 3156 just west of a trio of 7th, 8th, and 9th magnitude stars (it lies just 2′ from the faintest of the three stars).  This little galaxy is elongated northeast to southwest and has a slightly brighter center.  A much fainter galaxy, NGC 3165, glimmers intermittently with averted vision 5.4′ southwest of NGC 3166.
       
William Herschel discovered NGC 3166 and NGC 3169 on December 19, 1783 with his 18.7-inch reflector.  He designated them as the 3rd and 4th entries (respectively) in his catalog of “Bright Nebulae”.  Both of these galaxies are included in the popular “Herschel 400″ observing list.  Each of these galaxies shows evidence of tidal interaction and distortion on photographs.  NGC 3169 has a highly distorted spiral arm, while the dust lanes of NGC 3166 have been fragmented and twisted as if
the entire disk has been warped by the interaction with its neighbor.  It is estimated that these galaxies lie 52 million light-years away.

Subject: NGC 3166 and NGC 3169
Object Type: Interacting Galaxy Pair
Constellation: Sextans

NGC 3166 (H.I.3)
Right Ascension (2000.0): 10h 13m 45.8s
Declination (2000.0): +03° 25′ 30″
Magnitude: 10.4
Diameter: 4.6′ x 2.6′
Classification: SAB(rs)0/a

NGC 3169 (H.I.4)
Right Ascension (2000.0): 10h 14m 15.0s
Declination (2000.0): +03° 27′ 58″
Magnitude: 10.2
Diameter: 5.0′ x 2.8′
Classification: SA(s)a pec

Observer: Eric Graff
Location: Cuyamaca Mts., San Diego Co., California (4,000 ft. elevation) Date &
Time: 12 March 2007 at 07:35UT
Transparency: NELM 6.7, TLM ~14.1
Seeing: Pickering 5-6/10
Telescope: Parks Astrolight EQ6 (6” f/6 Newtonian Reflector)
Eyepiece: 15mm Parks Gold Series Plössl (60x, 52′ TFoV)
Filter: None
Sketching Materials: #2 pencil, black ink, blending stump, 24# copy paper


Solar creatures?

Solar creatures? 

We sometimes imagine that clouds take on the shape of creatures.  These
prominences on the south limb of the sun on Sunday 8th April ’07 have been
similarly likened to a firebird, an ostrich, a wasp and a feeding spider.
When actually trying to sketch prominences it is better not to imagine such
things or else the drawings will tend to drift irresistibly towards the
imagined beasts!

These prominences were in any case very difficult to render.   They were
changing literally from minute to minute and were also ‘upside down’ in the
eyepiece.   The changes were so great that I started to wonder whether I had
got their structure at all correct but later comparison with images taken at
about the same time were reassuring.

Observed from England through a single stacked SolarMax60 H-alpha ‘scope at
50-80X.   There were varying amounts of high altitude cirrus haze but some
moments of high contrast clarity and atmospheric steadiness.   Sketches were
made large on A4 Canford black cartridge paper using white Derwent Studio
and Derwent Watercolour pencils, the latter dry.   Coloration was done in
Photoshop, this was the only modification made to the sketches after leaving
the eyepiece.

Les Cowley


Lunar luminaries

2006 07 07

Lansberg/Gamma and Delta

“Wednesday night (Thursday for UT), was a practice session for imaging with my
Rebel.  I finally bought a t-ring adaptor during a star party a few weeks ago and
had some fun playing with the new toy. The guys in the DSLR forum are giving me some
great pointers.  Feels very strange entering that realm, but I have a feeling it
will compliment the sketching well for my observations.  Plus gives me yet another
way to enjoy this hobby to the fullest!

It was then time to put the camera away and dig out my sketch kit.  Paul, being the
thoughtful husband that he is, bought Tom L’s binoviewers for me last month.  Tom,
if you’re reading this, I absolutely LOVE them!  Wow!  Thank you both so much!!!
I’ve been having a lot of fun with black Strathmore paper and Conte’ crayons for my
solar work, so with Rich in mind, I got up the nerve to try my first lunar sketch
with this media. Lansberg and the surrounding craters were my main targets that
night.  I explored the terminator, tried to count craterlets in Plato, and admired
Copernicus (and was tempted to try it again, as the last time I tried to sketch that
beauty, my sketch was cut short and it was never completed).

Lansberg is from the Imbrian period and is about 41km.  The central mountains stuck
out like two eyeballs in a dark room and I was pleased to see some terracing.  All
the little craterlets around Lansberg belong to it with Kunowsky D being the
exception to the NW.  Reinhold is trying to slip into the scene to the NE, but got
its toe stuck in the door.  Montes Riphaeus was very dramatic, or at least compared
to the rest of the scene in that area.

Lansberg

After a great day today, which included solar observing (boy, that sun feels
great!), I set up with the binoviewers again tonight.  Although seeing was poor, I
went ahead and bumped up magnification with 8mm TV Plossls (love that EP so much, I
had to get another one!).  It was good enough to support the level of detail needed
to observe domes.  Had I wanted to jump into a few complex craters, I believe a 20mm
would have been best.  So, domes it was and why not a pair?  Mons Gruithuisen Delta
and Gamma were flagging me down and I just could not resist. 

Gruithuisen Domes Delta and Gamma

They are also from the Imbrian period and close to 20km each.  Looking at VMA, Delta
is classified as a mountain and Gamma is a dome.  Rukl calls both of them a domelike
mountain massif.  Hmmm, let’s see what Chuck Woods has to say about them.  Aha!  He
calls them domes, most likely formed of silicic volcanic rocks.  For more reading on
this, see The Modern Moon, page 37.  I would love to be one of the geologists that
Chuck suggests may someday bang on the domes with their rock hammers to see what
they are made of.
It was a bit disappointing that I didn’t see the summit crater on Gamma, but there
was an obvious darkened area on the western top portion of it.  I loved buzzing
around in the all the little dips and valleys to the north of it, though.  The
little raised line between Gamma and Gruithuisen K looked like a pea pod. Isn’t the
lava covered floor beautiful in that region?”
Sketches done with black Strathmore Artagain paper and white Conte’ crayons

Erika Rix

Zanesville, Ohio


Diamonds at the feet of the twins

Diamonds at the feet of the twins 

Open cluster M35 in the constellation Gemini 

Here’s my first observation with the SkyWatcher 102/500. This 102mm rich field scope gives a whole new perspective on deep-sky objects. With a SP 26mm EP, I get a whopping 2.7 degrees field of view at a power of x19. I hope you like the view.

Date : March 8, 2007
Time : 20.30 UT
Seeing :2.5/5
Transp. 3/5

Digital sketch made with Photopaint, based on a raw pencil sketch made behind the EP.
N down, W left orientation.
Rony De Laet

http://www.geocities.com/rodelaet, my personal website.


A daisy in the field

AR 756 Sunspot sequence

What a difference a day makes

This pair of sunspot drawings hails from the tail end of activity of the current solar cycle. The weekend of May 1st and 2nd 2005 consisted of two ‘blue sky’ days here in southern England, and I had the chance to observe and sketch the Sun in white light on both of them, recording the intriguing changes to AR 756 that occurred in just over 19 hours. I used graphite pencil on white cartridge paper, my favourite medium for this kind of target. For each sketch I drew the umbra first, then added the penumbral region with lighter pencil strokes drawn from the umbra outwards, with the pores being added last. The seeing conditions were very steady and not a breath of wind was to be had while I spent a happy (but very hot!) hour in front of the eyepiece each day.

Sally Russell

Sketch details: 

Date: 1st and 2nd May  2005   

Time: 14.20-15.30 UT & 10.05-11.15 UT respectively 

Equipment: 105mm AstroPhysics APO, 9mm TV Nagler, 2 x Barlow (mag x135),

Kendrick white light filter

Additional accessories: Large brimmed straw hat and a cold drink!                                                     

Medium: Graphite pencil on white cartridge paper                                                                                     

Each image size: approx. 1.5″ x 1.5″


Between Serenity and Tranquility

Plinius and Dawes 

Craters Plinius and Dawes
  
After more than 23 days of very cold, cloudy, winter weather an approaching warm front got me out under the moon and stars on this clear, transparent night of good seeing. I centered the telescope field of view on craters Plinius and Dawes near the lunar terminator. This is the region I selected for my sketching. Plinius is the largest (43km) crater in the sketch. Its central peak and irregular, cratered floor are hidden in darkness but a hint of its terraced walls can be seen on the illuminated inner west margin. Further to the west the peaks near Promontorium Archeruia are catching the rising sunrays. About 55 km to the south of Plinius is crater Ross, a 26 km diameter crater identified only by its sunlit rim. This crater rests in the Sea of Tranquility. To the northeast of Plinius near the edge of the Sea of Serenity is the 19 km crater Dawes, its floor mostly in shadow. Directly to the north of Plinius the rilles of Plinius were clearly visible. In addition a small part of Dorsum Nicol is also seen. All of these features are positioned on the dark colored lavas at the boundary between the two above mentioned seas. The grazing sunlight helped to enhance the changes in topography.

Frank McCabe
  
  Sketch details:
  For this sketch I used: black Strathmore 400 Artagain paper 9”x12”, white and
  black Conte’ pastel pencils and a soft leather blending stump.
  Telescope: 10 inch f/ 5.7 Dobsonian and 6 mm eyepiece
  Date: 2-23-2007 1:05-1:45 UT
  Temperature: 0C ( 32F)
  Clear, calm
  Seeing:  Antoniadi  II
  Colongitude 339 degrees
  Lunation 5.4 days
  Illumination 35.7%


Fountains of the Sun

Prom 1Prom 2Prom 3

Ever-changing Proms 

AR949 was not very apparent, but there may have been a hint of a few pores towards the center of the disk, slightly north of the “equator”.  There were two long slender patches of plage near a fairly long (maybe 20 deg) filament in this region.

Along the limb, I noted 7 areas of prominences, with some scattered jets of “baby” proms spiking out here and there.  Of the 7 areas, I initially concentrated on two, position angles of approximately 240 and 50 degrees.  The area at the NE was very faint at first.  I adjusted the front etalon to create more contrast.  But come to find out, yes it was faint, but the sweet spot of this 60mm Maxscope seems to be just SW of center.  I heard that these Maxscopes don’t have a sweet spot, but there is an obvious difference in the contrast depending on where your target is in the FOV with this scope.  Still, it’s a beauty of a scope and I still can’t believe my good fortune in acquiring it.

The prominence to the SW was very sharp and prominent.  Still, you can see the slight changes over a 30 minute time frame, making it an amazing site to behold. Like the Moon, you can’t spend a lot of time rendering the view.  The terminator on the Moon changes before your eyes.  Well I feel the Sun is even more dynamic, and the sketches last only minutes before the shapes take a different form.

Getting back to the NE prom, it was very fibrous and to me was lovelier than the SW area.  Again, the changes are noted in a 30 minute time frame.

What ended up being my la proéminence du jour was a patch of nearly lunar terminator looking proms on the western limb.  When the session began, this area was plain, with only a few little spikes with a finger pointing north.  But about 45 minutes later, made me feel like I was observing the Moon again, just like it did the day I sketched this prominence.

AR946 had comma shaped plage surrounding the 2 sunspots within connected by a darker
strand.  There was a filament about the same size located to the southern region of
the disk as well as plage just inside the limb about 30 degrees from the prominence
at PA 70 degrees.

2007 04 02, 1900-2000 UT
Zanesville, Ohio
Internally Double stacked Maxscope 60mm with 8mm TV plossl.
Seeing average with moments of heavy quivering.                                                                                              Transparency poor.
Temps 72 °F / 22.2 °C
Winds from West at 16 mph with gusts up to 28 mph, scattered clouds
31% Humidity                                                                                                                                              Sketches were done with black Strathmore paper and colored Conte’ crayons.

Erika Rix


Busy bees

The Praesepe, M44

Praesepe, Messier 44

Here is an encounter with an old friend, M44, visited with a new scope. The Skywatcher is a nice low power scope to enjoy large objects, like in this case : Praesepe. I tried to sketch the overall low power view, combined with the fainter stars visible at 33x. The higher power allowed me to separate ADS 6921 (in the Northern arm of the V shape) into four components : mag 6.4,7.6,9.2,10.4. You might need to squeeze your eyes to notice the fourth star in the sketch. When the sketch was finished, I counted (just for fun) the numbers of stars I’ve drawn. The number is 147.

Rony De Laet
http://www.geocities.com/rodelaet, my personal website.

Date : March 14, 2007
Time : 21.30UT
Scope : Skywatcher 102/500
Eyepieces : TV SP 40mm, SP 25 mm, SP 15 mm
Power : 12.5x to 33x
FOV: 3.3°
Filter : none
Seeing : 2.5/5
Transp. : 2/5
Sketch Orientation : N down, W left.
Digital sketch made with PhotoPaint, based on a raw pencil sketch.


In the belly of the whale

Messier 77

Here is my sketch of Messier 77 (Seyfert Galaxy). It was done on January 19, 2007, with a 12″ Lightbridge. The seeing and transparency were both average. The medium I used was Graphite pencil.

Sal Grasso

Messier 77 is a beautiful face on spiral that lies is the midst of a small group of galaxies in the southern constellation of Cetus. It has the distinction of being one of the most distant of Messier’s famous non comet inventory at about 60 million light years away. This sprawling city of stars is fully 100,000 light years wide and appears to harbor a supermassive blackhole that is currently energizing an accretion disc of infalling dust and gas. Studies with the Chandra Observatory show a beam of X-Ray radiation that is aligned along an axis passing through the galaxy’s core. The presumed engine is the dynamo action of the accretion disc; hot plasmas race around the hole at close to the speed of light, creating magnetic fields that confine and eject matter along the rotation axes of the monsterous gravitational maw.


Entrance to a frozen Hell

Eratosthenes entrance to a frozen Hell

There was a very thick mist that night, and the moon was hardly visible behind the clouds. I  put the scope outside with no intent for observing, as I wanted to adjust a new home made focuser. It was a very pleasing surprise to discover that there was absolutely no turbulence at all on the Moon.
Despite the thick clouds, the light and contrasts were still strong, and everything was frozen, no movement at all. I jumped on my pencils, and made a draft of Eratosthenes, one of my favorite craters on the Moon, maybe my favorite. I like the long and thin design of the Apennine mountains terminating like a lyra, with that black and strange hole, just at the limit of infinite darkness.

Pierre Desvaux

– Medium used: White Conté on black Canson paper
– Telescope: Home made 16″ Dobson, Nagler 12, barlow 2X Celestron
– Date: December 2006
– Place: Blanzy, Bourgogne, France


Cold clouds

Cold clouds

This large prominence was on the sun’s south west limb on March 27, ’07. Activity was otherwise low.   Paradoxically, prominences are cooler than the surrounding atmosphere. They are columns of sun-stuff trapped and held up in the magnetic fields above the solar surface.  The trapped plasma cools, recombines into hydrogen atoms and then emits visible light to show up as a prominence.  The glowing gas twists and swirls in the sway of the magnetic fields and can change its appearance from minute to minute.

Observed from England at 10.30UT through a SolarMax60 H-alpha ‘scope at 50-80X, seeing moderately steady.   The sketch was made large on A4 Canford black cartridge paper using white Derwent Studio and Derwent Watercolour pencils, the latter dry.   I try to avoid erasers or blending stumps as they can sometimes take away the immediacy.   If necessary, unwanted marks or brightness are reduced with lines of black Derwent Studio pencil.   It is necessary to work fast and to finish a sketch within ten minutes, any longer and the scene can alter significantly.   Details of this prominence were changing quickly but it was visible in more or less in the same overall form for over two days.

Les Cowley

Stop by and take a look around Les’s spendid daily website “Atmospheric Optics”. Click on the link in the blogroll. 


Galactic swing dance

M51

Object: Messier 51, The Whirlpool Galaxy
Classification: Galaxy
Position: RA 13h 29.9 min, DEC 47° 12′
Distance: ~23 million light years
Visual Brightness: 8m4
Apparent Dimension: 11′ x 7′
Constellation: Canes venatici
Observing Location: Erbendorf, Steinwald, Bavaria, Germany (800 meters
above sea level)
NELM: 6m2
Seeing: II / VI
Transparency: I-II / VI
Date: March 15, 2007
Instrument: Dobsonian 8″ f/6
Eyepiece: Reese 9mm Super Wide Angle
Magnification: 133x
Sketching Materials: black cardboard, white pastels, white ink, blending stump

A lot of work and patience went into the above drawing of M 51 to bring out as much detail and structure as possible: after one hour of dark adaption, another hour of pure observing and one more hour of sketching was invested, to get a glimpse of the subtle dark and light structures inside the diffuse nebulosity, which is generated by the object. At a first look, two blurry, bright smudges appear in the eyepiece, which can each be separated into a bright, almost stellar core surrounded by a diffuse, somewhat less brighter halo. It becomes apparent that the two objects are not located directly next to each other, but that there is a somewhat darker area in between, which is suddenly “cut off” by a brighter region in the east: the “bridge” of matter connecting the two galaxies! Inside M 51 A two slightly brighter regions start to appear, which bend away from the core and “dissolve” in the galactic disc: a hint of the spiral structure! Finally, two faint stars can be observed, which are apparently located East and West of the core, they are supposedly stars in the foreground. It may be noted here that the detail depicted in the drawing is the result of many hours of observation and patient use of averted vision, resulting in some sort of “sum picture”, which is surely not visible at a first glance. The beginner may be completely satisfied, if he can recognize the two discs and their cores – all the other details will appear with constant and regular observing.

Sebastian Lehner


To a southern exposure

Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught) 

Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught)
10 January 2007  2255 UT
10×50 Binoculars
Cold Knob, WV USA
Altitude: ~3°
Conte’ Crayon on textured pastel paper

For me, getting a look at the famous Comet McNaught was not easy.  I had tried and failed two days earlier at sunset when trees and houses blocked the view  and it was rapidly sinking lower each evening–in a couple more days it would be gone for observers in the Northern Hemisphere.

Determined to see this comet before it disappeared, I trekked to the top of a nearby mountain to get a clear view of the western horizon and set up my binoculars.  It had snowed 6 inches the night before, but now it was clear.  Before the end of civil twilight, the comet popped into view.  As the orange winter twilight progressed, McNaught took on the appearance of a burning ember just above the horizon.

The sketch is taken from a graphite pencil sketch I did in the field.  The most notable features at 10x were the bifurcated tail extending about 30 arcminutes to the northeast and the very bright coma.  The comet against the orange background of sunset was unforgettable.  I have seen many images of McNaught in magazines and online that were taken on the evening of January 10th and they all show that orange winter sunset.

Of course, Comet McNaught went on south to become the brightest comet in 41 years, visible during daylight, and with a tail so long that it extended back to the northern hemisphere.  But I saw it before it became famous.

Michael Rosolina


Cradle of the stars

Orion Nebula, M42 core region

The Orion Nebula (M42, NGC 1976) is one of the most well known and observed nebulae in the heavens. This magnificent collection of gas and dust visible as the “middle star” of the sword of Orion measures 30 light years across and lies approximately 1,500 light-years away. The Orion Nebula represents a stellar nursery in which stars are formed from the accretion of hydrogen gas and dust into protoplanetary disks (or proplyds) as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

I made wide-field observation of the Orion Nebula on February 14, 2007 using an 8-inch (20 cm) F/9 Klevtsov-Cassegrain reflector (a catadioptric design employing a sub-aperture meniscus correcting lens combined with a Mangin mirror-lens secondary). The observation was made under very transparent (6/6) and steady (5-7/10) conditions. The core of the nebula appeared brilliant in the field containing the famous Trapezium. Fainter extensions were noted to project from the core, including elongated ones to the north and south. The rendering was initially made using graphite (6H to HB) on Bristol Board paper (smooth), scanned into Photoshop and reversed.

Carlos E. Hernandez


Pacific places amidst “magnificent desolation”

Stofler and environs

Distinctive crater Stofler resides in the midst of the dense and chaotic crater field of the southern hemisphere of the Moon. One clear but very chilly evening in January 2007, the challenge of trying to capture the view was more than I could resist – this is my attempt. The sketch was carried out using white and black Conte’ pencils and chalk pastels on black ‘Canford’ paper. I began by marking out the main crater shapes using white Conte’ pencil, then I used a small chunk of white chalk pastel, broadside, to lay down the mare regions, blending this with a fingertip and a small cloth. More highlights were added (white Conte’ pencil), and a putty eraser used to define some of the features (and shadow extent) by negative drawing where I removed areas of pastel previously laid down. More detail was added with white Conte’ pencil as I went along, but there really was far too much to capture and I realized that I would have to quit while I was ahead and finish my outside drawing time before the view changed substantially. Once back inside I tidied up the sketch, removing the inevitable unwanted pastel smudges with a putty eraser, and re-defining some of the darkened inner crater edges with black Conte’ pencil, then using blending stumps (with touches of both white and black chalk pastel) to make final tiny adjustments. The sketch has been inverted and rotated in paint shop pro to give the standard orientation.

Sally Russell
 

Date: 25 January 2007

Time: 21.10-22.00 UT

Equipment: 105mm AstroPhysics APO/bino-viewer (mag x60)

Lunation: 7.3 days, 48.7% illumination

Sketch size: 6″ x 8″

The southern highlands of the Moon are almost completely dominated by craters in the 20 to 100 km size range, randomly scattered about the region. One way to determine relative ages of craters is to note which overlay or superpose over other craters or features, and the crater that obliterates or partially modifies another crater is usually younger. It is this principle that is the foundation of a stratigraphic approach to understanding lunar geological history. In the lunar highlands there is no shortage of overlapping or partially modified craters, and as Sally points out this region is about as densely chaotic as any on the Moon. A careful look at her beautiful sketch also reveals one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Moon. Many craters have smooth flat floors and the adjacent surface topography between these craters is also relatively smooth. The big question is: what is responsible for these smooth areas? Do the smooth floors and intercrater terrane reflect episodes of highland volcanism?  Or perhaps these areas are covered with thick layers of ejecta that settled out across the surface as a result of this large scale stochastical gardening.


A star in the guise of a comet

Hubble’s Variable nebula

Here is a sketch of NGC 2261, the Hubble’s variable nebula.

Some informations :

– Telescope : Dobson Lukehurst 495/2032, Pentax XW 7 mm (x290), no filter.
– Date : 30/10/06, 04:00 UT.
– Place : Nailly, Yonne, France.
– Sky : not transparent (lim. magnitude about 5,0) but with very good seeing.

A draft was made during the observation, then I made two sketches : one with the stars, the other with the nebula (on a white paper and with a lead pencil). Then, I scanned the two sketches and saved negative pictures. The picture with the nebula was colored in a light green. And finally, I added the two images.  The sketch is not perfect : the east side of the nebula was more luminous than the west side – it is not obvious in the sketch. But the color of the nebula seems (to me) well shown.

Bruno Salque

Here’s a link to a archived post on Astronomy Picture of the Day that discusses some of the fascinating aspects of Hubble’s variable nebula.


The shepard philosopher

The shepard philosopher

When I looked outside that Sunday evening there was not a cloud in the sky and the eight day moon was shining down on me from a very favourable angle. There were far too many desirable sketches available, and my eyes darted from Rupes Recta toward the south, to Eratosthens and the shadows and highlands spinning off it, and further north to Plato sitting on the darkness of the terminator. It was a difficult choice, but I settled on Plato just because it had slightly more interesting shadows and also some very bright highlights emerging from the darkness near its northern rim. A long thin pointed shadow poured from the base of Mons Pico toward the terminator and also from another high area to its right as I viewed it. These shadows lengthening in the hour it took to do this sketch. Just above Mons Pico as I viewed (south is up) a change in the lunar surface was apparent in the form of an Eiffel tower shaped greyness which swept up to and finished at Piazzi Smith. Mons Piton sits with Piazzi in area across from Montes Alpes which had several sun kissed high points. I observed the needle like Vallis Alpes cutting a sharp gash in the surface through rugged lunar land, lit slightly on its northern edge. Feathery shadows set of the shape of Plato and detached from its northern rim, very bright high areas warmed themselves as they became uncloaked from the blackness.

Deirdre Kelleghan
President
Irish Astronomical Society 1937 – 2007

Sketch details:

February 25th 2007
20:45UT – 21:45UT
53.2000ºN, 6.1000º W
200mm/F6/6.3mm Plossel/193X
8.19 days
Seeing 2
Trans Average
300gm Daler R paper/DR soft pastels/Black watercolour pencil/wooden toothpick
www.irishastrosoc.org

Plato and Sheep

Nestled on the plains between Mare Imbrium and Mare Frigoris lies the nearly lava filled crater Plato. This 100 km, dark pool of frozen lava has a darker tone than the lava that filled the Imbrium basin. Crater counts indicate that the lavas that filled Plato are actually younger than the Mare lavas of Imbrium. The history of emplacement goes something like this: the Imbrium basin was created first, followed by the impact that created Plato, and then the gradual fill in of basaltic lava that flooded Imbrium and much of the existing basin rings and superposed craters. This left untouched some of the isolated massifs that are now known as Plato’s Sheep, including the towering Montes Pico (2500 meters high), Piton (2000 meters high), and the Tenneriffe Mountains (2500 meters high). Finally came the slow lava inundation of Plato itself. Above Plato and rendered with wonderful precision is the Vallis Alpes, a large graben (extension) fault which probably formed as a result of the original impact that created Imbrium. Dee’s beautiful sketch clearly depicts the drama that awaits the observer when the telescope is turned to this region as the terminator passes through.


Galactic fetters

Markarian’s Chain of Galaxies

Markarian’s Chain of galaxies

Sketch was made on copy machine paper, A4 in size, with regular graphite pencil and blending stump. Conditions were good, transparency was excellent , limiting magnitude was 5.70 but seeing wasn’t that great. I used 8″ F6 dobson and 10.5mm Baader Hyperion Eyepiece. Magnification was 114x.

Vedran Vrhovac

70 million light years away, the sprawling Virgo Cluster is home to perhaps thousands of galaxies. In fact the Virgo cluster, despite it’s great distance, subtends an angle of about five full degrees in our sky, making it ten times larger than the angle the Moon subtends. Markarian’s Chain, beautifully rendered by Vedran, includes M84, M86 and M88 along with a host of smaller elliptical, spiral and irregular galaxies. Studies indicate that seven of the galaxies in the Chain actually move together at the same relative velocity.


Resplendent raptor

M16 Eagle nebula

M16 Eagle nebula

This nebula was drawn with graphite pencils on
white paper and then inversed after scanning.
The main field stars (until about magnitude 11)
was printed with a charting software and the
fainter stars and nebula were added during the
observation. It took about an hour to lay all the
details on paper.

17.5-inch dobsonian, F/4.5, 74 &125x, OIII filter
used for the fainter parts; 15/august/2004,
22h00UT, good transparency (visual limit of 6.31
in UMi); from La Clapière in the french alps at
an elevation of 1650m.

Yann Pothier


Radiant spectacle

The Sun with Sunspot groups 484,486, and 488

Today, March 2, 2007, the sunspot number is zero.

The sunspot number on October 28, 2003 was 238. An X-17 solar flare erupted that morning. Sunspot groups 484,486, and 488 were associated with Coronal Mass Ejections and auraural activity. The attached watercolor was based upon a white-light solar image captured with a 4″ refracting telescope, a white-light-solar filter, and a digital camera. The image of the sun with sunspots 484, 486, and 488 was processed in Photoshop and then printed. In a photocoping machine a transparancy was made. The transparancy was placed on an overhead projector and the projected image was traced and colored with watercolor pencils. Then, with a brush, water was added to the sunspots and to the remaining surface and background.

If the use of an “overhead projector” sounds like something from a school project, it was. Students at the A.R. Gould School in South Portland, Maine have used this process numerous times to document their observations.

… just a thought about tracing. In the late ’90s, I sent a cardboard-box camera obscura to Betty Edwards, the author of “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”. In her book she recommends that one should try to copy an image that is upside down; she suggests that that may allow the observer/drawer to see what is there and not what one expects to be there. In the camera obscura that I constructed, the image was projected upside down. In our conversations I asked her about the whether she thought tracing was drawing. She said that if two people were to trace the same thing that the finished drawings would be different, because drawing is about how we see things. (She also said that tracing allowed muscles to build muscle memory. I suppose that that is similar to practicing scales in music.)

John Stetson


Stellar spirit

Abell 33

Ghost of a dying star

In the western reaches of elongated Hydra, near the western border of Sextans you will find a ragged string of four stars ranging in magnitude from 6 to 8 aligned northeast to southwest located 1.7° south of 4th magnitude Iota Hydrae and 2.5° east of 5th magnitude Tau1 Hydrae (a fine, widely spaced double star). The third star from the west (and slightly out of line with the other three stars) is 7th magnitude HD 83535. This bluish-white star is superimposed on the edge of a ghostly planetary nebula known as Abell 33. My best view of this limpid pool of nebulosity was achieved with a 20mm Plössl (yielding a magnification of 45x) and an OIII filter. This setup revealed a small faint disk of tenuous nebulosity about 4½’ in diameter in contact with the 7th magnitude star on its southwest edge. The edges of the disk were reasonably sharp and the brightness faded gradually toward the darkened center. At other magnifications (both with and without the filter) the view was less distinct and the nebula became almost impossible to detect at magnifications above 60x. The 16th magnitude central star was not visible, but a trio of 13th magnitude stars (two of them a close pair) are perched on the northwestern edge of the nebula.

Abell 33 was discovered on Palomar Observatory Sky Survey plates by George O. Abell and published in the April 1966 Astrophysical Journal (Abell 1966). These nebulae, being very faint and of relatively large angular size are classified as ‘old’ or ‘evolved’ planetary nebulae. Observing the 86 objects in Abell’s catalogue constitutes one of the supreme observing challenges for amateur astronomers with large-aperture scopes; fortunately a few of them, including this one, are accessible in fairly modest equipment provided the observer has access to very dark skies and an OIII filter. Recent estimates place Abell 33 at a distance of about 1,100 light years from Earth (Phillips 2005), which implies an actual diameter of about 1.4 light years.

Subject: Abell 33 (PK 238+34.1)
Object Type: Planetary Nebula
Constellation: Hydra
Right Ascension (2000.0): 09h 39m 09.1s
Declination (2000.0): -02° 48′ 31″
Magnitude: 12.4n/15.7s
Diameter: 268″
Classification: 2b

Observer: Eric Graff
Location: Cuyamaca Mts., San Diego Co., California (4,000 ft. elevation)
Date & Time: 12 March 2007 at 04:30UT
Transparency: NELM 6.7, TLM ~14.1
Seeing: Pickering 5-6/10
Telescope: Parks Astrolight EQ6 (6″ f/6 Newtonian Reflector)
Eyepiece: 20mm Parks Gold Series Plössl (45x, 70′ TFoV)
Filter: Lumicon OIII Filter
Sketching Materials: #2 pencil, black ink, blending stump, 24# copy paper

References:
Abell, George O. 1966. Properties of Some Old Planetary Nebulae. Astrophysical Journal. 144:259-279.
Philips, J.P. 2005. The distances of highly evolved planetary nebulae. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 357:2:619-625.


A rose by any other name

Rosette Nebula

The Rossette nebula, NGC 2237-8, 46

Here is a challenging object. It was at the threshold of visibility for me and my gear. The nebulae was visible at a power of 12.5 (40mm EP) and at 19x (26mm EP). It vanished at any higher power!! The sketch was made with help of a lumicon UHC filter. But the most significant aid in detecting the ghostly glow was wobbling the scope left and right. The eye is more sensitive to moving ghosts than to steady
ones. As a result of the UHC filter, the fainter stars are lost. But I wanted to concentrate on the nebulae. The sketch was made in Photo-Paint, based on a raw pencil-sketch behind the scope. I hope you like the view.

Rony De Laet

Sketch data:

Date : March 9, 2007
Time : 21.00UT
Scope : Skywatcher 102/500
EP : 26mm SP
Power : 19x
FOV: 2.7°
Filter : Lumicon UHC
Seeing : 3/5
Transp. : 2.5/5
Sketch Orientation : N down, W left.


Famously floor fractured

Famously floor fractured

Lunar crater Petavius

The end of winter in the Midwest can sometimes produce cold, clear, wind free nights. On this particular night the waning gibbous Moon cleared the tall barren trees where I had set up my 10″ scope to observe and sketch. After examining the Moon awhile at low power I selected a target close to the terminator for sketching. Near the edge of the southeastern corner of the Sea of Fertility is the large ancient crater Petavius. Connected by a rampart to the west (just right of Petavius) is 57 km Wrottesley. To the east of Petavius buried deep in shadow is the Palitzsch Valley, asequence of overlapping craters that extends for nearly 112 km. The atmosphere was in such turmoil that much of the subtle detail was obscured at the time of this observation. The multiple mountain peaks on the floor of Petavius stood out as did the terraced walls and the 60 km long straight rille from the central peaks to the southwest rim. Even under conditions of poor seeing this is a rewarding crater to observe a couple of days past full Moon. If you missed it, try again 3 days past New Moon. From March to the end of spring the waxing crescent Moon is a great target in the Northern Hemisphere.

Frank McCabe

Sketch data:

For this sketch I used black Strathmore 400 Artagain paper 9″ x 12″, white and black Conte’ pastel pencils and a soft blending stump.

Telescope: 10 inch f/5.7 dobsonian and 6mm eyepiece

Date: 3-6-2007 2:45-3:30UT

Temperature: -6C (21 F) Clear Calm

Seeing: Antoniadi IV

Colongitude: 113.5 degrees

Lunation: 16.5 Days

Illumination: 95%


A dark horse

A dark horse

The Horsehead nebula is among the most photographed denizens of the deep-sky. But it is rarely the subject of a visual observation, much less a sketch. I made this observation the night of January 20, 2006, almost ten years to the day after my first observation of this ellusive object. Formally designated Barnard 33 (B33), the Horsehead is a dark nebula seen in the foreground of the delicate emission nebula IC 434. The contrast between IC 434 and the Horsehead is quite subtle; like a whisper in the night. But as long as the sky darkness and transparency are good, a 6-inch aperture is up to the task of seeing the famous Horsehead. On this night, the view in my 18-inch Obsession was truly stunning. Even unfiltered, the inky black form of B33 was obvious at 109X (22-mm Nagler Type 4 w/ Paracorr). My sketch represents a combination of two views. The first was unfiltered to reveal as many field stars as possible. The second was with a Lumicon hydrogen-beta (H-beta) filter in place to record the full glory of the B33/IC 434 complex. The Horsehead cuts into IC 434 along the nebula’s eastern edge. It is distinctively darker than the surrounding sky, having a genuine inky blackness as if someone has carelessly left the tip of their quill too long against the sky. The back of the horse’s neck, head, brow, and snout are all discerned. Some 60 stars frame the view.

I used HB and 2B Staedtler Mars Lumograph graphite pencils to make the drawing on a sheet of white printer paper. Gentle rubbing with the tip of my right index finger lended softness to the background nebulosity.

Bill Ferris
Flagstaff, Arizona