Starry Nursery


M42 and it’s close neighbor M43 are a delight to observe through any size telescope.
I captured these beauties on a clear August morning in 2006. This sketch was
rendered on Strathmore Windpower Sketch paper with a General’s Extra Black Layout
Pencil. Post processing and color added with MGI Photosuite III.

Jason Aldridge
North Port, FL

Spider or Demonic Face?

Tarantula Nebula 

Medium: graphite pencil and ink on white paper. 20inch f/5 Dobsonian at
Warrumbungles Mountain Lodge, New South Wales, Australia during the Deep South Texas Star Party (this is actually held in Australia) in March 2007. Some, obviously, see
a spider in this incredible deep sky object – I on the other hand see a Hollywood
demonic face snarling at us! Rather fun really when looked at from the safety of 170
klyrs away! Magnification was 212x and actual field of view 0.4 deg.

Rob Esson

Little Man Big

Homunculus Nebula 

The Homunculus Nebula is one of my personal favorites when it comes to southern
hemisphere deep sky objects. I was favored with good seeing conditions one evening
and attempted a sketch using a soft lead pencil.

The Homunculus (Latin for “little man”) surrounds the notoriously variable star Eta
Carinae. Using a 4mm Plossl with a twelve inch f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain (~760X), this
peculiar reflection nebula resembled a pale yellow bipolar planetary nebula. At
times, I thought the bipolar lobes appeared as a weak reddish color but I could
never hold the sight long enough to be certain. The disc was quite irregular in
shape and displayed much subtle detail. Eta Carinae was also of a subtle yellowish
tint. Indeed, Eta is included in the list of “red” stars compiled by George Chambers
back in the late 19th century.

The ASOD drawing was copied from the original sketch using Photoshop. The airbrush,
blurring and dodging tools were used.

Dave Riddle
Smyrna, Georgia USA

A work in progress


The Orion nebula may be one of the most challenging objects in the sky to observe.
The amount of  subtle detail it displays is astonishing and it is perhaps one of the
most difficult nebula to sketch.

Edward Holden’s monograph on the central area of M42 (Central Parts of the Nebula of
Orion, Washington Astronomical Observations for 1878, Appendix I) inspired me to
attempt to follow the footsteps of great visual observers of the the past — the
Herschels, Lassell, Rosse, Bond, etc.– and try to capture the wealth of details
seen in my 18″ reflector. I might add that my sketch is a composite drawing made
with apertures ranging from 70mm to a 20″ reflector. A separate drawing was made on
each evening of observing and combined into a single rendering. The Dearborn
Observatory star maps (claimed to go down to the 18th magnitude) were used to insure
the proper “placing” of the details noted with the various telescopes. The
(unfinished) drawing is still a work in progress after two years of observing.
Magnifications on my 18″ reflector ranged from ~60X (40 mm Pentax) to ~460X (5mm
Radian). The lowest power used: 12X with my Pronto 70mm refractor!

I settled on using a graphite pencil after experimenting with charcoal and soft
lead pencils. Nothing fancy here — just graphite on regular (economy) typing
paper from Office Depot. The drawing was color-inverted using my HP scanner and
tinted with the Paint program.

An extended observing session revealed details I hadn’t noticed before. The
remarkable D’Arrest “comets” were visible only when the transparency was good. The
prominent dark “globule” W1 was seen so well through a 24″ reflector one evening
that my first impression was that there was a bit of dirt on the field lens of my

I hope that in another two years I can finish the drawing.

Dave Riddle

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.

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

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.