To Sketch or To Sketch Digitally?

I have been looking lately at some beautiful sketch work that is being done by amateurs throughout the world. I have noticed that a lot of the newer sketches arrive in a digital format. For me, I guess I am a pureist and prefer to look at sketches that were done at the eyepiece using some type of artist tool. That can be graphite on white paper, it can be pastel on black paper etc.  To be honest, I prefer to actually look at sketches that others have done in person over the internet as I find that both with my own sketches and the sketches of others, digital format doesn't convey the beauty, the depth and the true capture of what is seen at the eyepiece.

So I am going to do an experiment. I am going to post some recent sketches up and their digital counterpart that I have done in the free tool called GIMP. I use to use GIMP for transforming all my sketches to try and convey what I could not convey in my sketches. You can decide which you prefer and perhaps if I am bold enough, I'll post a survey up to gather the results of the preferences of those that look at the two kinds. The Eyepiece Sketches were done at the eyepiece and using the Mellish Method of sketching. Here I go:

1. NGC 7457 a Galaxy in Pegasus.




Sketch at the Eyepiece: 

2. NGC 7023 Iris Nebula 


Sketch at the Eyepiece.

3. NGC 40 Planetary Nebula in Cepheus 

Digital Sketch GIMP

Eyepiece Sketch 

4. NGC 7769, NGC 7771, NGC 7770 Galaxies (Spiral) in Pegasus. 

Digital GIMP Sketch

Eyepiece Sketch 

Here is a link to a Google Form Survey I have made. In the first question you can decide which sketches you like by checking them. The second question lets you pick whether you prefer my digital sketches of the items made from the field sketches made at the eyepiece or if you simply prefer the sketch done at the eyepiece. Just curious on which is preferred.

Google Forum Survey LINK.

Thanks if you participate! 


October Backyard Objects

Alright, I have selected some targets for those who observe mainly in their backyards that they can go after. These include several Open Clusters that you could do with the Moon going through its waxing phases.  The objects are Messier 103, a beautiful open cluster in Cassiopeia and Messier 52 that will give those new to star hopping an opportunity to get to know how to do that better.  NGC 225 in Cassiopeia is another fun open cluster, called the Sailboat Cluster by many, see if you can see the Sailboat asterism here. Messier 34 in Perseus is another wonderful Open Cluster and then we move to a more challenging object, Messier 74 in Pisces. Wonderful face on spiral galaxy but for some it will be a challenge object this month. Messier 76 in Perseus is on the list, the Little Dumbbell Planetary Nebula that will respond well with either a OIII or UHC filter, but you can determine which view is better for you.  We are including yet another open cluster, Messier 45 or the Pleiades or Seven Sisters. Use binoculars, wide field eyepieces or your finderscope to observe this fall and winter wonder.  Last is NGC 1514 the Crystal Ball Nebula in Perseus that may also prove to be a challenging object for some of you. It is a Planetary Nebula and will respond well to the OIII or UHC but again, you can choose for yourself which one works.

I invite you to go to the NGC Database to look up the NGC LINK or go to the NGC Database and look under their Messier Catalog for descriptions by Steve Gottlieb and others. Messier  LINK. Compare them to your own view after you have observed and recorded your observation of these objects. I will apologize up front but these are not in the order I listed above and I am too tired to re-organize how the images uploaded. Also, I would view them in the order I listed them above or one close to it, including the Cassiopeia objects together and the Perseus objects together. If you get frustrated, stop, go do something fun and come back later to trying to find the object. Remember to align your findercharts correctly to the sky.

1. Messier 34 Open Cluster in Perseus. This is a semi large open cluster that is pretty to observe adn has good details to view. The charts will show you my hop to them but you can look at them and decide on your own star hop if you wish.

2. Messier 45 the Pleiades or Seven Sisters in Taurus. I highly recommend binoculars or a smaller refractor with a wide field for viewing this gem of the fall and winter sky.  

3. Messier 52 Open Cluster in Cassiopeia.  Near the Bubble Nebula and if your skilled, Cassiopeia A remnant. Fun open cluster to practice star hopping on! 

 4. Messier 74, a Face On Spiral Galaxy in Pisces. A wonderful spiral galaxy that is face on to us and presents structure and an arm that is visible. Bright core! Go for this one if your able to view Pisces. Don't go after it with the Moon beyond first quarter or in heavy light pollution (then again, try it if you want and see what you can see).

5. Messier 76 The Little Dumbbell a Planetary Nebula in Perseus. This PN responds well to filters, you can determine which one is best, the OIII or UHC Narrowband and why.  Fun object and I have gotten this in my 10 inch dob in my backyard many times. More detail is evident the darker skies you have. You can go down from the arm of Perseus or up from the top star at the end of Andromeda (which is how I recommend you do it) or find your own hop! 

6. Messier 103 Open Cluster in Cassiopeia. Easy to find from Caph in Cassiopeia and in mildly dark skies there is some nice color in this open cluster. This is one of my favorite open clusters personally. 

7. NGC 225 The Sailboat Open Cluster in Cassiopeia. Cute and fun open cluster to find, and not to hard to find it either. The triangle shape of the sail should be easy to spot as is the base of the boat. So, can you see the Sailboat asterism or do you see something else? 

8. NGC 1514 The Crystal Ball Nebula, or another Planetary Nebula in Perseus. Yep, I love galaxies, and yep, I also love Planetary Nebula. This is a wonderful find if you have the aperture for it. Try blinking your OIII filter and UHC filter on this one, the PN will respond to that. Also, observe the PN with both filters and record how the PN responds to each. There is a difference. This may be a border line dark sky object but give it a try if you want from your backyard! 

There you go. Eight fun October Objects to hunt down and to explore! Hope you like them and enjoy finding them and observing and perhaps recording what you see in some medium! Clear skies to you!


Observing, Monday, September 26th, Tuesday, September 27th and Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 FR006 Juniper Grove

Last week I was able to get out and enjoy several key nights of just wonderful observing. I did something different and will be adding them here. I took photo's of the site so you can see the location, but more importantly, I took video of the location. The video I took has me commenting and one of me just walking around and filming the site.

Here they are: 

This is the silent video that only captures me walking, but really the quiet of the site in early evening. 

This is the video of the observing site with my narration (ignore unless you want to hear me). Here are the pictures from this observing run. The last two are of my friend Alan's refractor he brought to observe. Wonderful instrument! 

Again, I am not going to re-order these as I observed and sketched them. Look at the time if you want that info. 

1. Abell 75 or NGC 7076 a Planetary Nebula in Cepheus: Mag. 13.2; Central Star 17.4; Size 1.1'; September 27th 2016; 11:20pm MDT; FR006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi I, steady and cool; SQM: 21.69 Milky Way Overhead; 17.5" Dob Star Catcher; 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm, 7mm & 5mm  Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II; Thousand Oaks OIII Filter. 

Same sketch above, the top one is just taken zoomed in closer to the sketch, the second or bottom one from what the sketch looks like normally. Very faint planetary nebula that is detectable.  There are two bright stars interacting on the Planteary.  Appears to have structure and some brightening at times on the SW side of thePN.  Challenging object. 

2. Cassiopeia A, SNR in Cassiopeia.  September 27th, 2016 @ 10:40pm MDT; FR006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi I, clear and cool, 48 degrees F; 17.5" Dob Star Catcher, Paracorr Type II; 22mm Nagler T4, 26mm Nagler T6; Thousand Oaks Filter OIII Filter.  Used 12mm and 17.3 Delos as well. 

Went to M52 then to the Bubble Nebula and then to a small asterism of a triangle and from the left corner up 3 stars in a row, and started looking.  The OIII popped this SNR right out of the background to me.  My friend Alan who confirmed the observation it took a minute for him to see it, but then it popped for him.  The SNR has faint whisps in it. It is thicker that I thought it would be with bright points embedded in it as well.  A wonderful and tremendously fun object to observe and rather easy to find with the right finder chart (see my SNR Challenge in my July 27th, 2015 post). 

3. NGC 7023 the Iris Nebula, a Reflection Nebula in Cepheus.  September 28th, 2016; 02:15am MDT; FR006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi I, clear, cool 45-48 degrees F; SQM-L 21.8; 17.5" Dob Star Catcher; 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II; Thousand Oaks OIII and UHC Narrowband Filters. 

Very evident reflection nebula that is worth the hunt.  I had tried twice before to obtain but was not reading the lay of the stars correctly in my star hops (doh!).  Prominent nebulosity around a mag 7.5 star, maybe 7.4 mag. Nebulosity is extensive around the star with a dark lane evident. Very fun object to observe and sketch. 

4. NGC 7217 Spiral Galaxy (Face On) in Pegasus; September 27th, 2016; 09:13pm MDT; Antoniadi I, clear, cool 50 degrees F; 17.5" Dob Star Catcher; Paracorr Type II; 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm Pentax XW.

This is a wonderful and bright spiral galaxy. When I took the image of the sketch some of the pastel chalk and come off and there is a brightness to this object not captured here but I have since added the pastel back to the sketch, sparyed an protective spray over it and I'll have to retake it.  This is a face on sprial with a bright small core region, with a stellar nucleus, with structure in the arms as it slowly brightens as you move in from the outer arms in to the core region. I highly recommend observing this wonderful galaxy.

5. NGC 40 Planetary Nebula in Cepheus; September 27th, 2016; 09:55pm MDT; FR006 Juniper Grove; Clear, Cool; 17.5" Dob, Star Catcher; 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm & 5mm Pentax XW; sketched at around 400x; OIII, H-Beta, UHC Thousand Oaks Filters; 

Wonderful object that I revisited. The PN is slightly elongated. At lower power the H-Beta gave/provided a better view then the OIII.  Higher magnification with the UHC filter is the best view. At 400x plus the east and west rims were brighter with the central region is darker with a bright 11.5 mag central star. Ring shaped structure seen with fainter spherical envelope with averted vision that I imposed in the background of the sketch. 

6. NGC 7354 Planetary Nebula in Cepheus.  September 28th, 2016; 12:15am MDT; FR006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi I, steady skies and cool and clear; 17.5" dob Star Catcher; 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm, 7mm & 5mm Pentax XW; SQM 21.7; Thousand Oaks OIII and UHC filters. 

Faint planetary nebula that is mostly roundish in shape, though some irregularity in the disk is seen on the eastern-north-eastern edge.  Ring like structure with the edge brighter in spots. Filters did not bring out any more contrast or structure. It was actually better viewed with no filter at a dark site. 

7. NGC 7448 Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus. September 28th, 2016, 1:25am MDT: FR006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi I, clear cool; SQM 21.8; 17.5" dob Star Catcher; 22mm Nagler T4; 7mm & 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II.  This galaxy is a well defined oval in the N-S direction.  It has a bright surface brightness and a bright inner core region, and is slightly opaque with some granularity, and is fading slowly at the edges.  It is a fun galaxy to observe! 

8. NGC 7457 Elliptical Galaxy in Pegasus; September 26th, 2016; 09:45pm; FR006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi I, clear and cool; 17.5" dob Star Catcher; 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

Small but very bright elliptical galaxy. Edges fade into the background with brightness increasing as you observing the inner core region. 

9. NGC 7457 Lenticular Galaxy in Pegasus.  Mag. 11.9, Size 4.1' x 2.5'. FR006 Juniper Grove; September 26th, 2016; 9:25pm MDT: Antoniadi I, clear, cool, 58 degrees F; 17.5" Dob Star Catcher; 22mm Nagler T4; 7mm & 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II.  

Oval shape galaxy that is elongated ESE-WNW.  Bright and the central region is also elongated somewhat like a bar.  Fainter disc that fades in the sky background is evident. Nice object. 

10. NGC 7479 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Pegasus.  September 26th, 2016; 11:35pm MDT; FR006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi I, clear, cool; 17.5" dob Star Catcher, f/4.4; 22mm Nagler T4, 7mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

One of my favorite galaxies to observe each fall.  I last sketched this on November 2nd, 2010 using my old XX14i at Pit n Pole.  You can see that sketch under the new one for comparison. The darker location and the slightly larger aperture did make a difference. This galaxy is rather bright, and is elongated N-S with a bright bar on the major axis that has a slightly brighter bulge in the center.  The envelope is seen tonight and is hazy and diffused. The thin curving spiral arm on the south end curving to the west is evident. The second arm also is visible. Both are easily held with averted vision. 

11. NGC 7635 The Bubble Nebula; September 26th, 2016, 10:25pm MDT: FR006 Juniper Grove; V. Mag. 10.5, size 15'x8'; Antoniadi I, clear and cool; 17.5" dob Star Catcher f/4.4; 22mm Nagler T4; 14mm, 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II; Thousand Oaks and DGM OIII, UHC filters. 

The Bubble Nebula shows on a portion of the actual bubble. That segment is north adn center of the brightest areas and adjacent to the 8.4 mag star SAO 20575.  The segment of the Bubble curves towards the east. OIII and UHC filters only improve the view slightly be they DGM or Thousand Oaks. 

12. NGC 7741 Galaxy Spiral in Pegasus; September 28th, 2016, 12:55am MDT: FR006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi I, clear, cool; SQM-L 21.8; 17.5" dob, Star Catcher; 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm & 5mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

Large and ill defined oval galaxy that lays E-W.  Bright moderate core region. Possible arms seen norther one confirmed as it heads south.  The southern arm is harder to see and hold.  Both need averted vision and dark skies to see. Arms hold with averted vision for 2 to 3 seconds and then fade, then reappear.  Double star impacts the view. 

13. NGC 7769 (face on Spiral in the middle); NGC 7771 (elongated spiral in upper left) & NGC 7770 the small and bright spiral next to NGC 7771.  Galaxies in the constellation of Pegasus.  September 27th, 2016, 12:00am MDT: FR006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi I, clear, cool, 48 degrees F; 17.5" dob, Star Catcher f/4.4; 22mm Nagler T4; 14mm, 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II.  

NGC 7769 is a face on spiral galaxy that is round in shape, and large and bright.  The galaxy has a bright inner core region and a sharp stellar nucleus.  It is the brightest of the 3 galaxies.  

NGC 7771 is a rather bright and elongated galaxy that lays WSW-ENE.  The galaxy has a bright inner core region and maybe a faint nucleus. 

NGC 7770 is a bright, toss up between oval and slightly elongated galaxy.  It has a bright inner core and bright stellar nucleus.  

I need to update my Sky Tools 3 Library this week and then will post here the other 21 objects I observed but did not sketch. That made for a two day total of 35 objects.  

Oh, one more I guess. I did another attempt on Messier 31.  I am not overly happy with this new sketch nor with the end result regardless of how I adjusted the light to take the shot or to be honest in my sketching of the object. Too rushed, and. I was too tired and do not like how it came out. I'll post to show that yep, it happens, sketches we don't like (to be honest I am having more of them these days). Guess that means I get to try, try, try again! I'll post the three images I took as I tried to black the image taken and then the one not darkened or manipulated and the one from 2013 which is on the bottom. 

Above is the one from September 28th, 2016 and below is from fall, 2013.