The Ever Popular Rupes Recta

Rupes Recta

In the morning hours before sun-up the early waning crescent moon was superimposed
on the firmament just west of the Pleiades. I was somewhat transfixed by this
scene but I was set up to sketch “straight wall” on the floor of the lunar Sea of
Clouds. From the eastern edge of Mare Nubium you can see the Triplet craters
Thebit (57 km), A and L. Next moving westward is the Imbrian escarpment Rupes
Recta , not a true wall in the usual sense but on one side standing more than 300
meters high at some  points and 114 km in length. The scarp face would be visible
from crater Birt (17 km) to the west, the youngest of the larger craters sketched
here. Touching the rim of Birt to the east is Birt A.  Continuing westward we see
Rima Birt a 51 km rille from the Imbriam epoch. At the end of the rille to the
south, is tiny 3 km crater Birt F seen in this sketch. Finally sitting on a
wrinkle in the floor of the mare is crater Nicollet (15 km) a Eratosthenian epoch
impact scar.
  For this sketch I used: white copy paper, graphite pencil and pen and ink 
  Contrast adjusted with Imageenhance software
  Telesccope: 18 inch f/ 5 Dobsonian working at 222X (9mm ocular)
  Date: 8-16-2006 9:30-10:35 UT
  Temperature: 17°C ( 62°F)
  Clear, calm
  Seeing:  Antoniadi  III
  Colongitude 178 °
  Lunation 22.3 days
  Illumination 45.9%
  Frank McCabe

Phil’s Sax


The Alpha-Persei cluster caught my attention during a naked eye observation in
Austria. Melotte 20 is very large: 3°! The brightest star in the sketch is Mirphak
(Alpha Persei). I used the ETX 70 at the lowest power of 8.75. The FOV is 4.8°. A
total of 88 stars are captured. The limiting magnitude at that power is mag 9.5. A
higher power would reveal more stars, but then the cluster-look is lost. This
cluster also has a nickname : the Saxophone Cluster. Mel 20 is not a famous target.
But the view is very rewarding. I made a naked eye observation of Mel 20 last year,
so a powered view was the next logical step. Here is an observation of the cluster
at a power of 8.75 with the little ETX 70. Melotte 20 has also a Collinder number,
but I like the Melotte designation (patriotic feelings rise, due to the fact that
Philibert Jacques Melotte had Belgian parents  )
(North is up, West is right)

Location : Bekkevoort, Belgium
Date:  February 4, 2007 , 19.00UT
Seeing:  2 on a scale of 5, Transparency : 2
Scope : ETX 70
Eyepiece : TV 40mm

Rony De Laet, my personal website.

The winter King


Sketch of M42 drawn with graphite pencil on white paper, hand made directly
looking throught the 12 x 80 binoculars sitting in a quiet place in the
centre of Guadalajara country.

The night was very clear and transparent, without clouds and no pollution. I
was drawing it looking with both eyes, it was wonderful because the nebula
was very bright, three nebula regions were visible surounding star clusters
(north and south of M42)

I scanned the sketch and changed to negative only. This is my first M42, I
remember the night was very cold and the pain in my fingers while drawing
it. The image through the binoculars was esplendid, impresionant, very
bright, impossible to draw all the stars in the field.

I hope you enjoy it.

Leonor Ana

Subtle Southern Splendor

NGC 5367 

 Located 2.2° north of 4th magnitude Phi (φ) Centauri, you’ll find what discoverer
John Herschel termed a “remarkable object”: a neat little double star shrouded in a
circular haze of nebulosity.  Described as “bright” in several references I was
expecting something a little more conspicuous in the eyepiece than this object
proved to be.

My first view of this object occurred atop a wind-blasted bluff at Sunset Crater
National Monument in Arizona on May 12, 2007 (UT), and was hampered not only by the
howling winds but poor transparency near the horizon that only became truly apparent
a few hours later when the rising Milky Way failed to reveal itself in its usual
splendor as the Sagittarius through Cygnus region rose in the east.  A second
observation took place two days later back home in California under somewhat
improved conditions (at least as far as horizon haze was concerned) and this sketch
was completed.

The initial appearance of NGC 5367 is that of a faint circular haze, about 3′ in
diameter surrounding a 10th magnitude star (which proves to be double at high
magnifications, and bears the designation h4636).  Its appearance (particularly on
May 12) was very much like the halo produced by a slightly dewed up eyepiece.  Two
field stars of similar magnitude did not exhibit this characteristic, however, thus
demonstrating that the haze surrounding the star was genuine nebulosity in the
depths of space and not condensation on my eyepiece.

With less certainty, averted vision sporadically hinted at more extensive structure
here, especially while slowly slewing the telescope back and forth in an east-west
motion.  Faint strands of nebulosity curving northward from the circular haze
partially delineate a dark cometary globule (designated CG 12).  This globule also
sends a dusky finger southward into the heart of the reflection nebula.  Additional
nebulosity (designated GN 13.54.9) was suspected around a 12th magnitude star about
6′ to the south-southeast and possibly a tenuous bridge between the two patches. 

Subject: NGC 5367
Object Type: Reflection Nebula
Constellation: Centaurus
Right Ascension (2000.0): 13h 57m 42.0s
Declination (2000.0): –39° 59′ 00″
Diameter(s): 2.5′ x 2.5′

Subject: J. Herschel 4636
Object Type: Double Star
Constellation: Centaurus
Right Ascension (2000.0): 13h 57m 43.1s
Declination (2000.0): –39° 58′ 45″
Magnitudes: 9.9, 10.5
Separation: 3.6″
Position Angle: 33°

Observer: Eric Graff
Location: Cuyamaca Mts., San Diego Co., California (4000 ft. elevation)
Date & Time: 14 May 2007 at 05:15 UT
Transparency: NELM ~6.2
Seeing: Pickering 6/10
Telescope: Parks Astrolight EQ6 (6″ f/6 Newtonian Reflector)
Eyepiece: 7.5mm Parks Gold Series-5 Plössl (120x, 26′ TFoV)
Filter: None
Sketching Materials: #2 pencil, black ink, blending stump, 24# copy paper

NGC/IC Project:
Cragin, Murray and Emil Bonamno. 2001. Uranometria 2000.0, Volume 3: The Deep Sky
Field Guide. Willmann-Bell, Inc. Richmond Virginia U.S.A.
Jones, Kenneth Glyn, Ed. 1987. Webb Society Deep-Sky Observers Handbook, Volume 7:
The Southern Sky. Enslow Publishers, Inc. Hillside, New Jersey U.S.A.
Strong, Robert A., and Roger W. Sinnott. 2000. Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion, 2nd
Edition. Sky Publishing Corporation. Cambridge, Massachusetts U.S.A.

Three craters from the top of Alto Rey

Three craters

Hi Friends,

I would like to share my sketches with all of you, I have lots of them in
my notebook and when I discovered the ASOD site recently I was surprised and happy
to find it. Its wonderful, a really good idea.

I made this sketch of three moon craters of the southern region with graphite
pencil on white paper, three craters are hand made without processing after,
just painted looking directly through the ocular and with red light. They
took me almost an hour aproximately.

The equipment used: Meade 8″ SC. Date:
3 Jun 2006;  Moon age:  8 days.

The night were very good conditions, I was on top of a mountain called Alto
Rey in Guadalajara, Spain.

All my drawings are almost first drafts in the place of observation, the
best I try to do them again and then more good and after change to negative
to get them more real. I havent still practice with photoshop, but I will
try it.

All my drafts are kept tenderly because they are the result of the night,
all filled with annotations and details by hand,

I hope you enjoy!
Thanks a lot.

Leonor Ana

Sword of the hunter

Sword of Orion 

One of the most majestic places to visit with a small scope or binocular might be
the sword of Orion. With every new magnification this fascinating complex of
clusters and nebulae shows more hidden treasures. So here is a 4° Fov impression of Orions Sword.

Place : Bekkevoort,
Date : Feb 21, 2007
Time : 21.00UT
Seeing : 3 (of 5)
Transp. : 2 (of 5)

Scope : ETX 70 with 26mm SP, no filter.
Power : 14x
Fov : 3,9°

North is up (bino orientation)

The sketch is digitally ‘drawn’ with Photopaint, based on a raw EP-sketch. I hope
you like it.
Rony De Laet, my personal website.

Glowing triangle


Observing M 103 requires a good deal of magnification, in binoculars or
at low powers, the cluster is only visible as a more or less bright
nebula or a small and distant group of stars. At higher powers, its
specific triangular shape becomes visible, three stars forming its
corners with two brighter stars in its center, one of them with a
striking reddish tone. Its catalog number is BD+59 274, a class M1Iab
star, a Red Supergiant. The double star at the cluster’s Northern-most
point is Struve 131.

Date: November 16, 2006
Location: Erbendorf, Bavaria, Germany
Instrument: Dobsonian 8″ f/6
Constellation: Cassiopeia
Seeing: II of VI
Transparency: II of VI
NELM: 5m0
Magnification: 200x

Sebastian Lehner

Sphere of influence


7th May  2007. around 21:30UT
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 6mm Super Plossl Eyepiece. Magnification was
200x and field of view was 0.25°. Limiting magnitude was 5.50 and
transparency was very good.

M5 is beautiful globular cluster in Serpens. M5 was discovered by the
German astronomer Gottfried Kirch in 1702 when he was observing a comet.
Charles Messier found it in 1764 and thought it a nebula without any
stars associated with it. William Herschel resolved individual stars in
the cluster in 1791, counting roughly 200 of them.Spanning 165
light-years across, M5 is one of the larger globular clusters known. The
gravitational sphere of influence of M5, (ie. the volume of space where
stars would be gravitationally bound to the cluster and not ripped away
from it by the Milky Way’s gravitational pull), has a radius of some 200

At 13 billion years old it is also one of the older globulars associated
with the Milky Way Galaxy. The distance of M5 is about 24,500
light-years away from Earth and the cluster contains more than 100,000
stars up to perhaps 500,000 according to some estimates.

Vedran Vrhovac

Jovial Giant

Jupiter by Hand 

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

Jupiter PS 

Naturally some of these are based to 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)

II-DSI-c..and my SBIG (recently) ST-2000XM.!!

Peter Desypris

Veiling the Red Planet

Mars Dust Storm 

2005 Martian Dust Storm

In late October during the 2005 Martian apparition, a dust storm 
began to roar across the planet’s southern hemisphere. Over the 
course of two nights, I was able to make four sketches of the storm 
as it developed and rotated into view.

In the sketches, the dust storm can be seen wrapping out of the Solis 
Lacus region. On the first evening, I was not able to detect any 
color in the storm, but on the second evening, I thought I could 
discern a very subtle, yellowish tint. I supplemented the 
observations with 21A Orange and 80A Blue filters while using a 6″ f/
8 Newtonian at 240X magnification.

The sketches were made with 2H and HB pencils on 28# bond within 2.5″ 
diameter circles. For each sketch, I began by completely shading one 
circle very lightly with a 2H pencil and then blending with a 
blending stump. Then, using both unfiltered and 21A filtered views, I 
shaded darker albedo regions with the HB pencil and blended again 
with the blending stump. I described bright regions by using both art 
gum and kneaded erasers to remove the base shading.

I made a second sketch of each view while using a 80A Blue filter. 
This supplementary sketch consisted of a simple line drawing denoting 
the brighter areas I saw.

After scanning the sketches and adjusting for contrast, I applied a 
black background with a slightly blurred edge to approximate the soft 
view through the eyepiece. By using additional layers in Adobe 
Photoshop, I added color over the pencil drawing as described in my 
notes. Where the 80A line drawing indicated bright spots, I added 
some blue to the boundaries of those areas to show that they were 
strong in blue light.

Jeremy Perez

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

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

Scott Young

When an iron heart stops beating

M1 Crab nebula

Messier 1
Meade Lx90 10″
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

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)
Seeing:  Pickering 5
Co longitude: 114 °
Sunset longitude: 66.1° E.
Lunation:  16.8 days
Illumination:  94%

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)

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

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, 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″

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, 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.

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

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.

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