Didn’t think I haven’t been sketching did you now? Summer is coming to a close, at least for me, and the following are that work. I always want to sketch more and more, but it sometimes can be a process more than an hour long, Which is rather difficult standing on a ladder in the dark several feet above the ground. Anyway, here they are. Clicking on each sketch will open the full resolution view.
I’ve made quite a few sketches the last month or so. The recent Mars Opposition made for some great views of the red planet, and I made my first Mars sketch since 2012! I sketched it with the RV-6 on 5/3/14 at 277x. The seeing was excellent.
My next sketch is one of the bright globular cluster M3, or NGC 5272. I sketched it with the Orion Observer 70 and the 16 Nagler. It was nice to have such a wide apparent and true field and some decent magnification. As usual, clicking the photo will show the full resolution view.
Quick question for you, do you prefer seeing the close up “Presentation” view like the Mars sketch, or is the full scanned page better? Moving right along, another sketch I did was spiral galaxy NGC 4753. I highly recommend this galaxy. It was pretty nice and bright, and punched through the light pollution pretty well. Definitely worth a look. Sketched with the 12.5″.
Here is my most recent sketch, one of Saturn I did just the other day. It is my best view of Saturn to date. I got this Saturn template from Jeremy Perez’s website, you can download it here. Using the 7mm Galoc ortho and a 2x Shorty barlow I had the power racked out to 544x! The seeing was really steady and if I could put more power on it, it would have been able to handle it. On this sketch, most notable is Encke’s Division, the furthermost gap in the rings. The largest gap is called Cassini’s division.
The 6 inch reflector, possibly the most common mirror size manufactured and used in telescopes. I has been considered the “serious” aperture for many years. At least that’s what it was like back in the day, meaning the 1950s and 60s. That has certainly changed in today’s light pollution and advancements in telescopes, including Go-To telescopes
I can remember my grandpa telling me that he used to sketched moon craters and similar objects with his homemade 4.25 inch reflector. He tried to have some of his sketches put into Sky and Telescope>, and unfortunately, they were never put in. I just got Sky and Telescope, and I don’t see any sketches in it. Perhaps I’m wrong though.
I recently made an excelent detailed sketch of M42, on of the best nebulae you can view. M42 is good in most any telescope, but it was great the other day. Why? Because staying up late was worth it. Even with a Waning Moon some 40 to 50 degrees away, it was still really good. One of the only other times I’ve seen Orion- the constellation in general was at a PVAA star party at Mount Baldy. I mean, this was really good seeing.
On a recent sketch from Astronomy Sketch of the Day, there is a nice sketch of M42-43, with a telescope with aperture of somewhere around 10 inches. The sketch is great, I tip my hat to them, but notice that the seeing when it was sketched was 3 out of 5. Most or all deep sky objects generally react well to darker/more transparent skies, so if you see my sketch below, notice that there is more structure and also notice more stars in the “Trapezium”.
Notice that I can pick out the “E” and “F” stars in the Trapezium cluster; this was previously only attainable by the using the Orion XX14, or a 12″ Meade Lightbridge at Mount Baldy. I could not believe this much structure and defined detail in such a small telescope. There is an interesting article on Belt of Venus regarding sketching and how much can be seen in a small telescope. This article included seeing very detailed view of M101 with only a 50mm refractor. Read this really cool article.
So the moral of the story is that even 6 inches can take you very deep in the sky, giving there’s decent viewing. One thing to remember is that the light pollution usually is less so after midnight as lights turn off and freeways and highways become vacant. I believe that most of the light pollution in La Verne is due to the 210 freeway that runs right through town.
When it comes to observing the deep sky, the more you look the more you’ll see; an experienced observer with a 4 inch telescope will see much more detail/structure in all objects than an inexperienced observer with a bigger telescope.
Keep looking up!
When I first got the idea of actually building a telescope in my mind, the first book I read was Amateur Telescope Making. To many this represents the pinnacle of telescope making books/guides. However, there are more out there than I once thought.
For example, here is the book on mirror making that my grandpa wrote back in the 60s. It was typed with a typewriter and the drawing were all made by him, which were really great drawings. This book is the simple way on how to build a 3 inch F-12 reflector. But don’t search for this book, because I have the only one.
Another good book for telescope making is Building Your Own Telescope, by Allen Thompson. I have not read it myself but many have said it is a very good reading, and can had for around 10 dollars (here). Look around, you’ll find countless books on this subject, they are not very recent, but still have the same valuable information to build a telescope from the ground up.
So, the question is, which book to buy? This depends on how far you want to go as far as precision for the telescope. I reccomend a simple technique that does not require the foucault test, because it just makes telescope making a whole lot simpler. Plus, a mirror’s figure does not need to be perfect in order to observe celestial objects with satisfactory results. It has been said time and again that a considerably less than perfect mirror will perform as well as a perfected mirror, it is just a matter of conscience.
Before I got really serious about building my telescope, I was demanding for perfection. I had to do the focault test, had to have a parabolic surface, and I wanted at least a 6 inch diameter mirror. It turns out that I did not do/get any of those, and that is fine with me based on what it said in Amateur Telescope Making. Sometime in the near future, I will be putting my grandpa’s book on this website as a page, along with all of the pictures, sketches, and references.
This weekend, I had been pushing some glass myself- only 2 more grades of abraisive left to go! I ground through the 12 micron today, and and hour was enough. Last weekend (and the previous post), I had thought of something that would be simple and effective in cleaning house for the next finer grade of abraisive.
A simple idea really, all I did was cover the top of the grinding stand in clear plastic wrap, then set the tool in place as normal. I tried it, and it really works! Cleanup was easy as ever, all I had to do was simply pull up the tape, and lift the wrap off. Then the new wrap can be laid on and taped, ready for action.
As I am progressing through these finer grades, the glass has started to lighten up a bit, and it is not as frosted as it previously was when I ground the first grade (#80 silicon carbide). I have been told that when the final grade has been finished, the glass should almost be transparent, though not quite, as polishing will remove the final grade of pits.
While progressing through the project, I’ve been planning ahead for gathering the finishing materials (diagonal, diagonal mirror, mirror cell, etc) and found a place to get mirrors aluminized cheap, as well as pretty inexpensive secondary mirrors, and other components.
On Friday morning, I was able to take out my 70mm refractor for a good hour and a half. I was able to get an extraordinary view of the Orion Nebula, which is saying something, because I have seen this diffuse cloud through a 14 inch reflector, so I know what I am talking about. I’d say that the view at 56 power is pretty close to the view through a 6 inch reflector. I hope to have this sketch on Astronomy Sketch of the Day, just like when I had my M31 sketch on there.
Here is my sketch of M42 :
All I can say is, I hope to be sketching this through my 4 inch soon.
I’ve been going through some of my old observing notes lately and pulled out my very first astronomical sketch book. I took a few minutes and looked through every page. If you’ve seen my recent sketches, they are perfect representations of what you would see through the eyepiece, except they are negatives. All of the sketches in my first book were all made with #2 pencil.
My first sketches were made on lined paper and the sketching circle representing the field of view in a telescope eyepiece was just merely hand drawn. These first sketches were crude, and they were not descriptive or an accurate sketch either. I the went to taping circular pieces of sketching paper which proved much better.
I was still not very satisfied with my results, and wanted more oomph from the sketches. I read Steve Coe’s Deep Sky Observing, which is one of the best deep sky/ sketching books I have ever read. Then came the perfect set up. I has ample room for notes, including dates; times; and telescopes used plus a 3 inch circle complete with North and East markings. These could be made on the computer and were used with ease.For an example of what these sketches look like versus the real thing: I have a picture of the real object and one of the sketch I made.
This object is a planetary nebula- the Dumbbell Nebula (M27). See the Dumbbell? The sketch was made using my small 70mm Refractor, and the view would have been much more impressive from a darker sky. For those who live in light polluted skies, you feel my pain and know what I am talking about. There is one other type of deep sky object I like to sketch: globular clusters. At first I thought this was not possible but once again, referring back to Deep Sky Observing, it shows how to sketch these stellar nodules of stars in space.
The view through a small telescope is dramatically less impressive than looking at a high quality photograph. A strip of 35mm film can capture much more light than your eye.
You can really see the difference in globular clusters obviously. By the way, Hi Digi Com and Media!