Astronomical Sketches: Old And New

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!


Observing with a 14″ dob

Observing with a big aperture scope is definitely worth it.  My dad recently purchased the Orion 14″ go to model.  I’m sure everybody who’s got a scope around that size has probabily looked at on

Last night was nearly full moon, I think it was 98% or something close.  It was not a very good night for lugging out the big scope but he had just got it laser collimated with his new device.  It worked good enough, the images were crisp all the way down to 8mm.  We first looked at Saturn.  I counted 6 moons and 3 divisions in the rings.  A great view for such a crummy night.  Then we looked at some open cluster in Cygnus.  It normally is a star filled area but I only counted 7 stars in the cluster.  Then finally, we pointed the big gun toward the moon, which was over the basketball hoop at that point.  I got the first look with about 175x.  It was blindingly bright as it should be.  When you leave the eyepiece, you get that imprint on your retina.  I can remember closing my eyes and still seeing Kepler and Copernicus.  He filtered it down some, but it still hurt a lot.

It wasn’t a very good night but it was certainly memorable for some reason.  By the way, my book Uranometria came just after I finished my post.  It truly is the “deepest” map I have ever seen.   The only drawback is that Sagittarius and Scorpio get cut off, they are considered a southern object.  But in late July to August, they work their way up in the sky pretty high.  Oh well, I guess that means that I’m buying the southern edition.   Anyway,   if  you really want an advanced set of charts, buy Uranometria 2000.0.   Highly recommended to the experienced amateur.   Even though I have this detailed chart, I am still going to buy the “Bright Star Atlas” by Wil Tirion.  It is a nice little chart that shows bright stars and bright deep space objects.  For one of those nights when you don’t want to scan the skies for faint fuzzies.



Uranometria Northern and Southern                                                  Bright Star Atlas




Orion 14″ go to Scope