Yes, indeed I felt lucky to see the transit of mercury on November 11th. Black clouds full of heavy rain were in constant supply all morning. My PST telescope and drawing materials were in and out in the hope of a break in the weather. It was my intention to use the drawing to help explain the transit of Mercury, CHEOPS and Exoplanets.
As you can see from the drawing above (which is not rotated) I got my first view of the tiny planet at 12:51. I sketched one black dot on top of my previously drawn solar disc. Then the rain bucketed down like rods with a big wind attached. Next chance came at 13:33 a second black dot added to the effort. Then it rained cats and dogs till 14:26 when my final opportunity gave me a third mercury dot to add to the sketch. Most Irish observers had a similar story and images of this unique event. Therefore is was obviously frustrating to know it is happening but your chances of viewing are being limited by the weather.
After the last dot had been added to my sketch I had to drive up to Sligo in advance of Science Week workshops. I had hoped to get one more observation up there however black clouds over the Atlantic dashed that idea . Nevertheless, I had a sketch that would enhance my presentations to explain the transit of Mercury, CHEOPS and Exoplanets.
Our Sun and Other Stars Workshop Snippet
My workshop title is Our Sun and Other Stars, the audience were primary school children and their teachers in several venues.One of the subjects I talk about in the presentation is a new space telescope called CHEOPS. This instrument is due to launch on December 17th. Its job is to look at other stars that are known to have planets in orbit around them. This space telescope will determine the characteristics of these planets. CHEOPS will, in fact, be looking at lots of exoplanets transiting stars. It will measure those planets, check the out for thin atmospheres and make a list of exoplanets for future study.
CHEOPS is an European Space Agency Mission with a very targeted objective. For me it was great to have my little drawing to help children get the idea of a transit of a planet. At least Mercury is somewhat familiar and aided the small step to bring children the realisation that there are other planets with no names orbiting other suns. Wonderful drawings of CHEOPS were created at the workshops, equally important some featured exoplanets.
Irish children's drawings onboard CHEOPS
Several years ago CHEOPS started a send your drawing to space campaign which I got involved in. Some children from my previous astronomy club St Cronans Stargazers drew line drawings of CHEOPS. It was a very specific kind of drawing on heavy paper, it had a lot of guidelines and rules to follow. All leading to the children's drawings being shrunk by a factor of 1000 and etched onto titanium plates. These Irish drawings together with many others are now onboard CHEOPS awaiting launch hopefully before Christmas. You can see the original drawings in the slideshow below and you can also find them on this link, there are 8 from Wicklow they are my kid's club drawings. Click here to see all the dawings onboard CHEOPS click on Ireland to see the drawings from Wicklow.
A recent Space Week workshop was attended by a class of young children. They ranged in age from 8 years down to 5-year-olds. A sun based drawing activity seemed like fun to me. I delivered a simple explanation of the power of our nearest star. How a sunny day helps us to smile, and how the sun does so many things for us every day. My presentation was very colourful showing off solar features like sunspots and prominences. Sunspots for young children needed to be exciting and full of easy words.
I decided that drawing a sunspot would be achievable. Occasionally during workshops, I do a demonstration drawing to help kids to be more flowing in their efforts. Most kids will draw the edges of things and then try to add detail inside their shape. The shape they draw to start their effort dictates how the drawing progresses. Sometimes children get upset because their drawing has not started correctly in their heads. So a little guidence is a good thing.
In my demo tutorial, I try to get them to look at the sunspot for its shape, it's texture, colour and energy. The pages are black, the centre of the sunspot is black therefore there is no need to use black pastel to achieve a version of the umbra. Using pastels to mimic the shape of the penumbra around the umbra can be challenging for small kids. However, they do understand energy and drawing with energy. I don't use big words like umbra, penumbra at all. Just inside and outside of the sunspot plus an emphasis on the powerful energy involved. The main aim while working with this multi-age group was simply that sunspots on the sun are cool. The work produced by these young children was pretty also pretty cool.
In my experience never underestimate a five-year-old child's attention or capabilities. It is never too young to learn even a tiny bit about the sun and its features. It's never too young to learn a weeny bit about what the sun does for us all every day of our lives. If a child agrees that the sun shining makes us all feel better then that in itself is a good start. Bolting on the fact that it helps carrots and apples to grow is an easy progression towards understanding some of its function.
One 8-year-old child in this class actually knew that stars are born in a nebula. This kind of remarkable intelligence and understanding happens more often than you would expect. Young minds with special interests that delight the child and spark wonder in their peers. Perhaps I should rephrase my previous sentence to state that we should never underestimate a child's capabilities. Indeed we should seek the innate abilities in all children and support them. Each child got a ESO sticker that says " The Universe is my Playground" which is exactly right.
This is the Solar Dynamics Observatory that I showed the children at the end of the workshop. Lots of oohs and ahhs were heard during they video. They loved it, plus it shows sunspots - SDO 5 Year Video
Exhibition in Hawaii
Some time ago a painting of mine won a prize in the My Sun My Star Contest. This was a solar art competition involving photographs, drawings and paintings inspired by the sun. The contest was run by The National Solar Observatory in Boulder Colorado. One of the aspects of the prize is that my painting X-Ray Sun (above) will go on exhibition . On Friday September 20th if you are in Hawaii (how exotic) one of my paintings and in addition one of my solar drawings will be on show.
Since the prize came my way I was asked if another work of mine could be included in their exhibitions. NSO requested one of my solar drawings. That sketch it is called East Limb Proms. The venue is The University of Hawaii - Institute for Astronomy, it is on the island of Maui. The event is an open day for the IFA ( Institute for Astronomy ) in partnership with the DKIST ( The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope)
X-Ray Sun Painting
I wrote about my painting here in recent months . This is the link to my blog on X-Ray Sun
East Limb Prom Sketch
East Limb Proms is a pastel drawing it was created back in 2012 and it is dramatic even though I say so myself 🙂 I absolutely love solar drawing, it is hugely challenging but totally absorbing. One of the things I love about it is that my PST Telescope is tiny. It is only 40 mm in diameter. The image of the solar disc I see is even smaller than that, within my field of view.
The challenge is to observe prominences, filaments or active regions very closely. Let your eye settle on the target and look at the action for shapes. In this solar sketch, there was a very distinctive set of proms on the limb which appeared to be rolling. It also looked like it was twisting at the same time and looping itself into an excited state of energetic mania. This kind of prom is known as a hedgrow prom.
Lower down in the drawing (below) look at the dark filament rising up from the solar disc. It is darker than the photosphere below because it is cooler. It seems to whisk itself around the limb joining itself to another exuberant leaping prom whose anchor is just out of sight. These are known as filaproms, the kind that clearly show their anchors and the height they gain are very dramatic to the eye.
These hot gasses move out from the limb to reach many thousands of miles above the sun. As a result the the dark filament part thereby instantly gains the title of prominence (prom)as the structure stands out against the blackness of space. Filaments and prominences are both the same hot gas feature, it is the positions of both together that subsequently gives us the word filaprom.
Lastly if you are lucky enough to be in Maui Hawaii do go visit the exhibition. Likewise if you find my drawings interesting I have included some astronomical prints in my online shop. Lunar and Solar high-quality prints are available also some Irish animals that live in the countryside around me. Click here to see them, postage is free.
As far as I know hexagons in space are not common. The only natural hexagonal shape I know of out there is the extraordinary storm cloud on the north pole of Saturn. However here on Earth, this shape is everywhere, bees use hexagons in building their hives. Hexagons hide in plain sight within our bodies, our skin and our DNA. The humble pencil is hexagonal to maximise its packing potential and help it not roll of your desk.
The six-sided shape fits together perfectly with no gaps. Apparently, the geometry of a hexagon uses the least amount of material to hold the most weight. Hexagons can, therefore, take a lot of force even if they are made from light material. The James Webb Space Telescope mirrors are made of Beryllium alloys. This is a very lightweight metal consisting of closely packed hexagonal structures within itself. The skeleton behind each of the eighteen mirrors is also created with hexagonal shapes which makes each section lighter while also maintaining its strength.
In 2021 a new set of hexagons will launch into space onboard an Ariane 5 Rocket. Eighteen perfect hexagonal mirrors will be carefully folded and loaded inside the rocket. Yes, it is hard to imaging mirrors folding however this is superb engineering. The James Webb Space Telescope mirror is made up of 18 individual hexagons. Each mirror is 1.42 Metres ( 4.3 feet) in diameter the entire primary mirror system is 6.5 Metres (21 feet) in diameter. The 18 hexagonal shapes fit together perfectly with no gaps, thereby maximising the light- gathering power of the primary mirror.
The surface of these collective mirrors will in time be the recipient of ancient light from distant stars and galaxies. The JWST will bring us fresh new insight into the building of our universe. This magnificent telescope is coming into being by the efforts of NASA, ESA and CSA ( Canadian Space Agency) There are many other participating countries including Ireland I am proud to say. These hexagons together with the vast data potential of this space telescope consequently lends itself to STEM or STEAM activities.
The James Webb Space Telescope looks more like an interstellar spacecraft than a telescope. Its mirror system is beyond beautiful, because of its visual perfection. To me, the JWST primary mirror is a work of art. The sunshield protecting its brains ( computer, communication etc) is the size of a tennis court. Everything about the JWST is ambitious in a big way.
The telescope will end up one million four hundred kilometres from Earth. Therefore when it is deployed, it has to work first time. Because there will be no space shuttle travelling out that far to fix any anomalies. This unfolding subsequently must be perfect and will take months to carry out. The adventurous nature of this telescope, its build, launch and ambitions have inspired me to bring it to the attention of school children.
At a recent Space Camp I had a small group, therefore an opportunity to introduce it. I pre-prepared 18 gold hexagons within four-inch squares. In previous groups some children displayed difficulties in cutting straight lines and to some children concentrating is difficult. I figured it was best to keep the plan simple by good preparation. With a small group, each child had several chances to help build a replica of the JWST mirror.
In advance, I drew up 18 hexagons in white gel pen on a black mount board. Hence guidelines were in place to receive the individual mirrors. After explaining the JWST in small bite-size chunks the children were keen to start the build. It was great to have a small group as it slowed everything down and each child placed their glue and their mirrors very carefully. They were extremely careful to line up their hexagons with my lines.
They were very proud when it was finished. We watched a video of how the telescope will unfold in space. The watched the clock on the video. Some said, "OMG it takes a whole month to unfold the sunshield". Then one lad said " but sure it has taken many years to get it into space, so it's good to take it slow and be careful about it " the rest of the kids agreed with him.
The European Space Agency sent me some posters so because my group was small each child when home with one.They show ESA's fleet across the spectrum incl JWST. See that JWST video here
Slideshow with images of our JWST mirror build
It's raining as I write, water pours down the window like syrup in a jar. Montbretia in the garden seem to generate self-made light. Each flower punctuates the greyness with orange flames on stems within the hedgerow. It is often grey days that send me light thinking and remind me of how frequently I dwell on it.
Recently I met Br Guy Colsolmagno for breakfast in Dublin. A sunny morning with the promise of more light to fill the day. We had a fun catch up chat within which were several moments of encouragement sprinkled towards my work. We then headed to the National Gallery of Ireland to see an impressionist exhibition.
Sorolla was a Spanish master of light, the exhibition held fifty works spread over four large rooms in the gallery. All of Sorolla's work in which the subjects were sails, sailing or water mesmerised me. I enjoyed his brush strokes, bold one stroke renderings of shirt collars. The way he bent sunlight around the arms of children or introduced startling shafts of ilumination into dark rooms was indeed masterly.
Most intriguing to me was the painting Sewing the Sail. His choice of colour tones for the folds and shadows on the sail is superb. You can see that painting here - Sorolla at the National Gallery of Ireland How this painter brings strong Spanish sunlight into the work area saturates the viewer and invites deep long looks.
My habit of observing light and thinking about it was fed by visiting the Sorolla exhibition. In past times when I was at Dublin City University one of the assignments involved making a video. This involved teaching myself iMovies. Its a kind of poem on light. In my video I wanted to show aspects of light in my week as well as fulfilling the list of shots required by the brief. I choose light because it fascinates and challenges me in many ways, it is something that I am aware of all of the time. The natural light from the sun is so multi dimensional and multi functional it sinks into the deepest facets of all our lives without effort or notice. The Light in my Week
Sometimes in life, you get caught up in your own small world. Meeting positive people like Br Guy can sometimes bring light in by their inspiring words. The light within words.
When I do drawings of the moon it is always sunlight edging the rims of craters or tops of mountains that locks my view. Attempting to capture the sun itself with my telescopes on paper is challenging but also irresistible. Watching the action created by the sun on Earth is absorbing and often beautiful beyond description.
Sunsets pouring pink tones on green hills altering my perception of the view. As summer darkness falls on every blade, the only natural light comes to us as twinkling stars. Later in winter, our view of the night sky offers us the reality of our being. Our place in space amongst light visible and invisible. Our past, present and future all in one view.
On July 19th it was my pleasure to run two Apollo 11drawing workshops for children in Co Sligo Ireland. This was the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo moon landing.
Seeing the moon landing live on TV 50 years ago was a big deal to me. It influenced my life in many ways, it still does. Therefore being so close to July 20th, I included my workshops as part of the global celebration of Apollo 11 in the IAU ( International Astronomical Union) events list.
Its interesting how the Apollo moon landing absolutly pulled the entire planet together as one back in 1969. A few hours of focused global awe for the achievements of three men on our behalf. We need more of that unity, we need it so much.
Ocean FM based in Co Sligo interviewed me about the Apoll 11 moon landing Click here to listen to the interview
Sligo Central Library
The first workshop of the day took place in Sligo Central Library. That venue is actually an old gothic style church built circa 1791. Of the 16 children attending, not one of them knew the names of the men who went to the moon in July 1969. This is an increasing occurance in the last 6 years or so, therefore history being lost over time.
My workshops teach children about various space and astronomy subjects via drawing. The kinesthetic action of drawing helps cement learning. It helps children think clearly about what they are drawing, therefore assisting them to remember more information. For the day that was in it, the children did very well with their drawings. They were keen to take part in an impromptu video statement. "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind " a phrase familiar to most adults but new to these little children. Click to listen to the children
They drew Buzz Aldin's helmet and visor. In the visor, Neil Armstrong is reflected. A complex image as well as being iconic because of its content. Of all the Apollo images, it is one of the few in which both men exist together.
In a hurry to get to the second venue I left the USB for my slide changer behind. When I called them to sort it out, they had news for me. The library got phone calls from parents after the workshop. They rang to say how delighted they were with the level of detail about Apollo 11 retold by the children when they got home. Drawing as a tool for learning is so intrinsically valuable. It should never be underestimated in education.
The second venue was in Tubbercurry Community Library, about 35 minutes drive. This was a very modern library, 12 children were booked in and 4 more who were in the library joined the session.
The second drawing was to celebrate the Saturn V rocket in which the three brave men left this planet to engage with the moon. Encouragement was given to use the pastels in ways to show energy and massive power. As with the morning session, I led the way by drawing the Saturn V. In doing a one-minute drawing of the rocket in front of the children I tried to show them how to look at the task in shapes, shadows, and highlights. Showing them how making a simple ghost image first helps them to get started. After that they can add more detail to their drawings.
After the basic story of the Saturn V and the moon landing the children started their drawings. There was great energy in the room. Colours became power as their little hands worked to express the lift-off of Apollo 11 on its journey to the moon.
Here below are a few of the drawings produced that day
Way back in time when I was just 11 years old I bought myself a copy of National Geographic Magazine. The February 1969 issue came with a large comprehensive moon map. The map is jam-packed with moon information, including the proposed sites for the Apollo Missions. This Apollo Moon masterpiece shown above is a true thing of beauty. This treasure has been on my wall for decades, an inspiration every time I look at it.
The original artwork for the near and far side of the moon was hand-painted by cartographic artist Tibor Toth. There were no computers in graphic art at the time. The map was designed by Dave Cook who also did most of the writing for the gorgeous snippets of lunar information included in every nook and cranny. Others credited with the work on the map are Richard Furno, Dave Moore, and Jay Igno. Back then copying and pasting was just exactly that, cutting out text and pasting it down. My work in the '70s in graphics involved that plus some drawing, a tedious job however nothing as sophisticated as this magnificent work. The relief work and detail on the moons hemispheres by Tibor Toth is without doubt a glorious example of the power of drawing.
This lovely 26 day drawing of the moon ( see slide show below) is a good example of how they added information in every available space on the map. Just one of the eleven moon phase drawings across the bottom of the chart. The map shows 22 landed spacecraft, including those that crash-landed on the moon up to February 1969. The side view of Copernicus with the inset cross-section of the grand canyon gives an excellent sense of scale. The image of the moon over the entire United States gives great context to the piece.
The South Pole image states very clearly that there was unsatisfactory photography of that section of the lunar surface back then. There has been a lot of work done since on imaging this area. There are plans by both ESA and NASA to build a moon village and take advantage of the fact that water has been discovered buried deep in craters at the moons south pole.
This week I bought the July 2019 issue of National Geographic Magazine which also came with a moon map. 50 years and a few months later the moon has had many more visits from Earth craft. Another comprehensive map, albeit somewhat smaller than its 1969 counterpart resides inside the main magazine. The 2019 map is credited to Matthew W Chwastyk NGM staff who put it together from various sources listed on the map. You can see it in the vertical here click to see it online.
There is an abundance of Apollo 11 50th Aniversary activities flooding the internet at the moment. Here below are a few that I find interesting and perhaps you have not found them yet. Hopefully, you can access most of them no matter what country you are in while reading this write up.
Share your Apollo 11 Story with NASA a call out to the world
One that resonated with me is the NASA call out for oral recordings of peoples personal memories of the moon landing in 1969. This call runs up to December 31st 2019. It is easy to do and there is a list of questions to address in your recording that helps to structure your audio. The questions help to build a picture of the impact of the first moon landing on peoples lives. A few weeks ago I recorded my four minutes worth and sent it in. It felt good to do it, some of the recordings made by people are up already. Do your bit for the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Click here to Share your Apollo History.
BBC World Service Podcasts TV Radio and Online
The BBC World Service has a series of podcasts available. You can access them via the BBC iPlayer app or online in the link below. My particular favourite is the interview with Michael Collins. The world knows the stories of both Neil Armstrong and @TheRealBuzz during the moon landing, but the third crew member @AstroMCollins played a vital role in the mission's success. Episode of 7 #13MinutestotheMoon is out now: https://t.co/VzUUdxUuv3
BBC also have a huge array of programs on TV, Radio and Online here BBC Apollo 50th coverage BBC Media Center
Yours truly has an article in the upcoming August issue of the BBC Sky at Night Magazine. It's an Explainer article aimed at getting people started in drawing the moon. Am also very pleased indeed to have two Apollo Drawing Workshops on July 19th for Sligo Libraries. Enjoy all the wonderful media, 50 years is a long time. Let's hope we have another Moon landing and perhaps Mars before the next 50 years are up.
Another interesting article here by James Kurzynsky
Cruinniu na nOg means the meeting of the young in the Irish language. Creative activities are funded on that special day by the local authorities all over the country.
The overarching body is called Creative Ireland. Ireland as a country therefore backs creativity nationwide for all her children.
My drawing workshop Let's Go To The Moon - Apollo 11 became part of this government initiative to stimulate creativity. Cruinniu na nOg is aimed to encourage children to get involved in new experiences while creating and also having fun.
Castlebar Library - Cruinniu na nOg
The first venue on June 15th, was Castlebar library Co Mayo. A really good presentation space with enthusiastic staff to help set up. An audience of young children along with a few parents showed total interested in the Apollo 11 mission. Some of the children were very well versed in Apollo mission details. It is so refreshing to listen to children talking about the first landing on the moon 50 years later. After my presentation, which is the basic story of Apollo 11, we got down to the drawing.
" Through the Creative Ireland Programme, Ireland is now among the first countries in the world to prioritise creativity as vital to our personal and collective wellbeing and success. The Programme promotes understanding and appreciation of the value of creativity in all of its forms; it engages and influences decision-makers to embed creativity across public policy, and it supports and enables participation in creative activities." from the 2018 report of Creative Ireland
On this occasion the challenge was to draw Buzz Adrian's helmet with Neil Armstrong reflected in the visor. One of the few images with both astronauts in the shot because Neil Armstrong was the cameraman. Their little faces told the story of the challenge. I could see the look of " she can't be serious" and " this is too hard for me" in their eyes.
In order to bring out their creativity and tutor them a little, I did a demonstration drawing. This lesson in observation helped the children break down the complex image into shapes they could recognise. Curves, rectangles, human stick figures, dark shapes, and light shapes. Using this method, encouraged the children to draw in an informed way at their own level. Therefore creating an easier pathway to their drawing than their earlier facial expressions exclaimed.
The results are excellent attempts using pastel on black paper. Their pride in themselves duly served they brought their work home. Every child left the library with NASA moon cards, ESO ( European Southern Observatory) stickers and an Apollo 11 information sheet designed by me. Here it is if you want to use it yourself. Moon Workshop Sheet A4
Ballinrobe Library - Cruinniu na nOg
After that, I drove on to Ballinrobe Library to repeat the workshop. What a total surprise, Ballinrobe Library is in an old church. The building has excellent acoustics, which I toughly enjoyed. My cardboard Buzz Aldrin figure cut a real presence in the church. No doubt the real Buzz would have been impressed by his figure being present at this unique location. As in Castlebar, the cardboard Buzz helped me explain the astronaut's A7L suit and how it helped the men survive on the moon in 1969.
For this workshop the drawing challenge was the Saturn V rocket. Another demonstration drawing helped break down the rocket into a simpler way to look at it. Basic shapes, cones, cylinders, and rectangles. We also added energy. The children were encouraged to express the power needed to launch the Saturn V from the Earth to the moon. In the room was enough energy to launch a small rocket from Mayo. As the presentation went on I could see some adults in the library soaking it in and coming toward the drawing area. As with Castlebar the children attending were very proud of their drawings. Also, every child went home with NASA moon cards, ESO stickers and an Apollo 11 information sheet.
Big thanks to Mayo County Council, Castlebar Library, Ballinrobe Library and Creative Ireland.
Children spinning their little handmade Saturn models with joy !!
At Easter I ran a small space camp for children. It was over three mornings in Louisburgh Co Mayo.The venue was Books at One, the local community bookshop. We packed a lot of things into the three mornings, in fact, I had too much planned. Better too much than too little in my experience. Space Camp joy abounded !
Day 1 Space Camp
We built paper rockets that we blew into space (in the room). I have a box of interesting forever goodies. These are intended to be made into something at some time. In the box, I found some triangular stickers. These had rocket holograms on them !! Perfect for rocket fins, the kids agreed and they loved them. The stickers came from Recreate Ireland which encourages creativity through reuse.
We checked out the news on The Planetary Society's Light Sail 2 project. New information for the children so lots of ooohhs and aahhs of joy and interest filled the room. We learned about SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket and its amazing landings OOOH Yeah !! We also learnt about NASA and SpaceX plans to launch DART Double Asteroid Redirection Test (Dart). This test will check how a particular asteroid moves when hit by an impactor. It should pave the way for the development of Earth defence systems.
Asteroid close to home
Our news session took on a personal aspect when I told the children that Deirdre had just had an asteroid named after her in space. (More on that soon, still getting my head around it). The children all hoped that Deirdre's asteroid would not crash into the Earth 🙂
Day 2 Space Camp
We made Moon Infographics to help the children understand the phases of the moon. We cut out all the moon shapes and wrote down all the phase names as neatly as we could. The children stuck down the phases in the correct order. Then when the moon is in the sky they have their own chart to check which phase it is exactly.
It was a difficult task for some children because of age and skill differences. It was a much longer effort than expected, however, all the children did well. The proof of learning came in the moon quiz at the end when the right answers were offered enthusiastically. The children got their answers right because they had been engaged with learning by paying attention to detail.
Day 3 Space Camp
Because we had a packed schedule I had to paint all the Saturn rings the evening before so that they would be dry The idea was to make little Saturn models using some old CDs and small polystyrene balls. As soon as the halved balls been stuck to the white CD's the children, collectively started to spin their planets. A spontaneous fun-filled moment that actually summed up the joy of learning. Little Saturns spinning off the table, crashing into each other, being fixed on the go 🙂
We drew Mimas, one of Saturns smaller moons. The children listened to the story of the Cassini mission to Saturn. Our space camp finished with a video about the end of the Cassini Mission . I was delighted to have some Cassini educational material left to give away. Am lucky to have some great Cassini cards from my time as a member of The Saturn Observation Campaign. More space camp joy for the children.
On April 16th Active Region 2738 was heading towards the limb, looking very dramatic. I decided to try an experimental sketch using just pencil to capture the action around the giant sunspot. I used a very black pencil called a Conte de Paris Carbone B, which was deeply black. For the sketch I also used some silicone tipped brushes, these were perfect for drawing with and allowed some good flexible movement to be developed. There is always massive movement in the area around sunspots. A kind of disturbance caused by the huge magnetic activity in the sunspot itself.
The light bridge and umbra had changed since a previous observation on April 10th. It was clearly visible in my h-alpha view however the seeing was soft not as sharp as I would have liked. A well shape filament would have been nice to observe but none developed as I viewed.
It was great to have a new huge active region to observe recently. This massive area of magnetic disturbance heaving its way across the solar disc was fascinating to watch. The weather smiled on Ireland, several days of sunshine in April is unusual to say the least. Active region 2738 boasted the largest sunspot in several years. Its diameter is three times that of the Earth. Across the center of the umbra is a light bridge circa 20,000 km long and circa 800 km wide. !! Drawing Active Region 2738 is a challenge indeed but it is also an opportunity to try some new ideas.
At 12:36 UT on the 10th of April, a very bright plage flare erupted from the base of two dark filaments. Then one of the filaments got very long very quickly. Then the flare subsided. It's the yellow part of the drawing. The umbra was very dark and the surrounding penumbra seemed light red in h-alpha. Other normal plage is shown in light pink. It is very difficult to draw all the detail that comes to the eye as it is in layers. Each drawing is an experiment in trying to get it right. A corkscrew-like prom was busy off the limb. The grey dots you see there are because the fixitive spray reacted in the hot sun (very unApril)
I had hoped to do several of these white light pencil drawings and a h-alpha pencil drawing. Anyway it got a bit hazy as the morning developed. You need really good pin sharp seeing to capture features accurately.
In the h-alpha drawing above I tried to simulate what I was observing by using colour particles as close to my view as possible. This process is difficult but can produce spectacular results in good conditions.
Watch this space
The idea of drawing the very complex visible detail on the solar disc with pencil in h-alpha is daunting. However I think it will work and at the very least be a learning curve to produce better drawings.
As Active Region 2738 approaches the limb I hope to capture it in one or two experimental drawings using just pencil for all visible detail. A monochrome drawing in h-alpha. Let's see how it goes !!