17.5″, 3 Hours, and the Eta Carina Nebulae

Hi all,

Scope time has been very scarce this year. This sketch was done in April.

Encouraged by my attempt at Eta Carina through my 8″ dob, I trained my 17.5″ dobbie at the same target, again from Sydney.

This time, I also used my Grand Daddy of all eyepieces, a 35mm Masuyama. A bit long for this f/4.5 scope, but my only OIII filter was a 1.25″.

Eta Carina is not only huge, it is a very busy place. There are multiple shockwaves within it, masses of star formation both just initiated in the form of dark pillars, of those whose nuclear fires have just kicked in, nebulae within nebulae, and a super massive star about to go supernova.

This magnificent NASA site shows all of these details.

Again, the Homunculus Nebula is too small at 57X, but the supermassive star, Eta Carina, it is associated with is the bright reddish one.

Armed with a battery of sketching implements, the result of 3hrs is below. Ooooohhh, I am going to have soooooo much fun redoing this one at a dark sky site!

Scope: 17.5″ f/4.5 dob
Gear: 35mm Masuyama, 57X, OIII filter
Date: April 8, 2011
Location: Sydney
Media: white pastel, white & black charcoal pencils, white chinagraph, white and coloured ink on black A4 size paper


Alex M.

A Rushed First Quarter

Hi all,

Time at the eyepiece has been scarce so far this year. And as yet, still no productive time at a dark sky site either. Thankfully we still have the Moon!

This one hour sketch of the first quarter phase of the Moon was a bit of a race. That was all the time I had before the Moon went behind the neighbour’s palm tree, plus conditions were cold and windy. I guess as close to “Extreme Astro Sketching” as I’d like to get to, LOL!

This was also the first sketch undertaken with a real old girl scope, a beautiful early 1980’s orange tube C8. No GPS, no periodic error control, no Go-to, no special lens coatings, doesn’t even make me coffee. Just a little clock drive. Cool.

Object: first quarter phase Moon
Scope: 30 year old C8
Gear: GSO Superview 30mm, 66X
Date: 11th May, 2011
Location: Sydney, Australia
Conditions: Poor, windy and cold
Media: White and black charcoal pencils, white and black Chinagraph, & graphite pencil on A4 size black paper.


Alex M.

A Nebulous Study

Hi all,

Sydney’s skies have been terrible for a long time. Finally tonight we got a clear, cloudless and dewless night. And I wasn’t going to let a little Moonlight get in the way.

As Sydney’s skies are also loaded with light pollution, the full potential of the Eta Carina nebula isn’t realized. The Homunculus Nebula isn’t visible at 29X – it’s too small. However, its distinctive colour is visible, it is the bright, orangeish star.

This sketch was more a case of blowing out some cobwebs from my pencil case. Modest gear, short time, and a refreshing ale. A target I wish to revisit in the coming New Moon from a dark site.

Object: NGC 3372, Eta Carina Nebula
Type: Emission nebula
Scope: 8” f/4 Newtonian, dob mounted
Gear: RKE 28mm (29X) and OIII filter
Location: Sydney
Date: 23rd March, 2011
Conditions: Awful Sydney sky + last ¼ Moon.
Media: White pastel, black & white charcoal, white and coloured ink on black paper


Alex M.

Revisiting Two Old friends

Hi all,

Tonight I received one of my biggest and most pleasant surprises at the eyepiece. It wasn’t using a half metre + monster, nor from an especially dark site. Rather, it was using my nearly 30 year old 2” f/12 Tasco refractor, and from my home in Sydney!

Over a year ago I purchased an adaptor to allow me to use 1.25” eyepieces with this little refractor, with the idea of one day making it into a finder scope. Tonight I finally got to try it out, and dust off the little refractor after many years of being unused. What I didn’t expect was the image I was to see of M42. Even the eyepiece used was a modest Super Plossl 25mm.

When I first used this little telescope, all I could see of M42 was the inner core nebulosity that surrounds the Trapesium. Tonight, despite the extra light pollution, but with 30 years experience, and I guess better eyepieces than the original, DIDN’T I SEE DETAIL!!

I even managed to see the faint, nebulous glow that makes up the Running Man nebula too.

This is the first sketch I managed to do at the eyepiece, since my meeting with Scott Mellish, nearly 2 months ago!

Scott, many thanks again for showing me your amazing technique. It has changed the way I sketch DSO’s with a pencil, paper and a dry paint brush!

Gear: 2” f/12 thirty year old refractor
Eyepiece: 25mm Super Plossl, 24X
Filter: OIII
Media: white pastel, white and black charcoal on black paper
Date: 30th December 2010
Location: my backyard, Sydney

Alex M.