Rhapsody in Blue – Saturn / Moon Occultation
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On the evening of May 22nd 2007 the beautiful blue sky was host to a first quarter moon. The evening was to bring me one of the most visually rich observations in my drawing odyssey . When I set up my dob I really wasn’t expecting to  catch a glimpse of Saturn in a daylight sky. The software gave me an idea of where the planet was, I scanned the area in the hope of finding it. My task was to see Saturn before it went behind the unlit quarter of the moon. In my first look there it was, the white ringed planet, one billion miles away in space. Saturn was there in my eye, embedded softly in the azure sky moving swiftly toward  the invisible limb of the moon.  Nothing could have prepared me for that  revelation, it was a totally different experience to seeing Saturn in a dark night sky. My drawing paper was hastily endowed in blue … Continue reading

Sketching Eddington Crater with the Grubb refractor at Dunsink Observatory Dublin – a very nice memory
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Last night I was looking up at the moon, it brought back to me a wonderful April evening in 2007 when the phase was exactly the same. That evening was to offer me a great experience in lunar sketching. When I was about fourteen years old I had my first looked through the South Refractor at Dunsink Observatory in Dublin. For months I had pestered my dad to bring me out there, a bit of a long drive in those days, before motorways existed. Jupiter was on view that evening, it was crystal clear. The planet must have been quite high as I could look through the Grubb standing on the floor of the dome. At that time I had my own little white 50 mm Tasco telescope on a short plastic tripod. There was not much to see in it, however the moon always got a look. Since that first planet view at Dunsink I wanted to revisit the … Continue reading

Lunar Drawing – Fracastorius, to Madler along the terminator
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May 21st 2007 21:00UT – 22:45 UT Lunation 5.16 Days 200mm Reflector / Williams Optics Binoviewer 20mm eyepieces 2X Barlow/120 X Image not rotated 300gm Paper/Soft Pastels/Conte Crayons/Blending stick / etching tool   Many astronomers are less than fond of the moon because its reflected light takes away from their deep sky observations and imaging. Both the moonless and the moon full renditions of the sky are relished by me for different reasons. The deep dark sky for comets and messier objects, our moon for its outstanding contrast and intricate detail. My attention is captured by the interaction of sunlight with the rugged landscape. It is often difficult to choose what feature of the moon to draw when your field of view sometimes offers several exquisite potentials. The theatre of the moon is almost impossible to ignore.   Back in May 2007 I had a loan of a pair of binoviewers this sketch was the result of trying them for … Continue reading

Get ready the Perseids are coming
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About 30 years ago we had a holiday in a remote location in the West of Ireland. The house was high on a grassy ridge on Bolus Head looking over St Finian’s Bay in Co Kerry. From this vantage point the 350 million year old Skellig Rocks rose like stegosaurus plates from the Atlantic Ocean. They were 16 kilometres out to sea but their jagged presence dominated the view to the South. It was early August and when darkness fell the predictable blinking of a distant lighthouse was the only manmade object discernible at sea level in the blackness. One moonless evening, the sky was crystal clear, the summer triangle was dramatically intersected by our galaxy’s river of stars, so much more touchable than the suburban view. I lay on the sun dried grass looking for Perseids, one, two, three, four, five, six, plus several in the corner of my eye within a few minutes. Time to take action, I … Continue reading

Solar Sketching in h-alpha – Prominences dancing on the limb
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Astronomical sketching is not just about drawing pictures it is  about learning. This kind of  sketching is about observing very closely the subject at the far end of your telescope. Sketching at the eyepiece is challenging but  rewarding,  however solar sketching in hydrogen alpha  (h-alpha) is for me the ultimate challenge.  As I have mentioned in another post on sketching  a person does not have to be good at drawing  to produce a  sketch  or learn about a target. A persons first efforts are not going to be very accurate, whether the target is an apple or the sun. Some increment of wisdom will come with every endeavour . Improvement comes with effort, trial and error over time . Unlike astrophotography, the sketcher processes the dynamics of the subject in his or her head not in software, however the brain may be a hardware of sorts if one considers all it does for us . The sketcher seizes the moment … Continue reading