April Double Stars

Well, I guess I have discovered another interest in the night sky, one that I can do in my backyard quite nicely with the moon. I have observed double stars before and I find that I enjoy them, but of late, with the weather robbing me of many dark site trips and deep sky observing, I've learned to take what the sky and more importantly, what mother nature provides. So I have been observing double stars and will record some of the more colorful or interesting ones. So here are the ones of late.

Observations are done in my backyard, or at 5 Mile Pass. My backyard is SQM 19.6 and 5 Mile Pass is at SQM 20.8.  Antoniadi II on these observations and I used my AR102, my 14" dob with its Zambuto mirror.  A 22mm T4 Nagler was the finder, and I used the 7mm and 5mm Pentax XW as my eyepieces and they showed wonderfully with these objects. Information is on the sketch and they are not posted in order of observing. Observing these made me think of my friend Alan.  He is a double star master!


Arp and Hickson Galaxy Observations of Late March 2017

I have been trying to space out my observing from the end of March. I guess I got in more than I thought, but not nearly as much as I wanted.  Besides working on Sue French's book (see the last post), I also worked on observing Arp and Hickson Galaxies and Groupings.  These were done at FR006 Juniper Grove observing location, with a SQM-L of 21.83 and Antoniadi II observing conditions.  My 17.5" dob Star Catcher f/4.4 was the telescope. A Paracorr Type II is used on all observations. North is down and west is to the left, or slightly tilted with North being slightly to the right corner and west slight off mid line down about 2/3's from the top left.

1. Arp 18 NGC 4088 Galaxy in Ursa Major. 22mm T4 Nagler; 5mm & 7mm Pentax XW. NGC 4088 is a long, flat spiral galaxy that has a bright inner core region and a stellar nucleus that is slightly off center.  There is lots of mottling around the core with hints of structure. One arm is easily seen and the other is detected with averted vision.  The tidal tail is observed and is very faint using averted vision and brealthing. Supernova SN 2009dd was in this galaxy in May of 2009. Fun object to observe!

2. Arp 23 or NGC 4618 (large spiral in the center) also known as the Magellanic Spiral (since it is similar to our dwarf companion galaxy the Magellanic Cloud in appearance) and NGC 4825 a small galaxy in the bottom right.  22mm T4 Nagler and 7mm & 10mm Pentax XW. NGC 4618 is a moderately sized and bright spiral galaxy with one distinct arm that is easily seen.  Mottling near a bright inner core is also view. I enjoyed observing this galaxy. NGC 4825 is an oval galaxy with a bright core but no structure evident. 

3. Arp 94 NGC 3226 an Elliptical Galaxy (smaller one below NGC 3227) and NGC 3227 a spiral galaxy in Leo.  22mm T4 Nagerl with 5mm, 7mm & 10mm Pentax XW.  NGC 3226 is a more round, though averted vision shape with a bright inner core region though it is moderate in size. It's compactness makes it rather bright.  NGC 3227 is FUN! More faint than NGC 3226 with mottling outside a bright inner core and both arems are visible.  Mottling in the arms is observed. Both galaxies are engaged with each other and with their outer halo there appears to be no separation. Well worth your time with the right aperture. 

4. Arp 269 or NGC 4490 The Cocoon Galaxy and NGC 4485 in Canes Venatici. 22mm T4 Nagler with 10mm & 7mm Pentax XW.  NGC 4490 is the larger of the two galaxies in the sketch and is somewhat large. The galaxy is bright with a brighter inner core. Spiral arms are S shape and present and visible. NGC 4485 is an even surface brightness galaxy, small in size, oval in shape. Nice pairing and worth the time to observe. Mottling evident in NGC 4490, lots going on within that galaxy. 

5. Arp 273 UGC 1810-13 interactive galaxies in Andromeda. This was observed on November 5th, 2016 and I did not add it in to that observation. FR006 Juniper Grove, Antoniadi I; 17.5 dob, 22mm Nagler T4 and 10mm & 7mm Pentax XW with Type II Paracorr.  
Faint pair of galalxies with spiral structure easily observed.  Best way to see that arms is to place the 8th magnitude star out of the FOV. In UGC 1810-13 the arms are observable at 321x with the 7mm Pentax XW.  Stellar cores on both. 

6. Hickson 40; MCG-01-25-009 or 40a; 010 or 40b; 008 or 40c; 012 or 40d; 011 or 40e (all last three digits are shown the actual galaxy is MCG-01-25-xxx with xxx the number I posted above. I will notify these by their Hickson number. 22mm T4 Nagler; 5mm & 10mm Pentax XW. 
40a is the large even brightness galaxy in the sketch and it is very faint, small and a roundish to oval shape galaxy.  It is the easiest to see in this group. 40c is the slanted galaxy above 40a and is elongated streak of light that I used averted vision to distinguish from 40a.  40b is the top most galaxy and is faint, small and round. Averted vision shows 40b distinct from 40c.  40d is very faint, is the galaxy down and to the right form 40a and is elongated east to west.  40e I want to say I caught glimpses of with the 5mm Pentax XW using averted vision and being very patient.  It would fade in and out.  22mm Nagler T4, 10mm Pentax XW; 7mm & 5mm Pentax XW. 

6. Hickson 44 in Leo.  NGC 3189 (brightest member in the middle) and is 44a; NGC 3193 or 44b is the elliptical down and to the right of 44a; NGC 3185 is 44c and is up and to the left of 44a; NGC 3187 is 44d and is in line and to the bottom left of 44a;  22mm T4 Nagler; 5mm, 7mm & 10mm Pentax XW;  
NGC 3193 is the elliptical and round galaxy to the lower right. It is round, and bright with a large bright inner core.  NGC 3189 is a large, bright and easily observed galaxy with a nice dust lane running through it that is easily seen.  NGC 3187 is faint but observable with direction vision and has no visible structure. NGC 3185 is easily seen, oval shape and has mottling through it. FUN GROUP! 

7. HIckson 57. 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm & 5mm Pentax XW; 
 NGC 3753 =57a and is the brightest galaxy in the center, being faint, elongated and small with a bright core region. NGC 3750 = 57c and is a companion just above 57a to the left and is a round, lumpy patch of light.  NGC 3754 = 57d is just off of NGC 3753, just below it on the NE end. It is just a very faint patch of light.  NGC 3746 is 57b and is the second brightest and largest galaxy here, down and to the right of 57a. 57b is faint, with even surface brightness with a bright inner core region. NGC 3745 = 57g and NGC 3748 = 57e are both barely visible with 57g just below 57b and 57e to the right of 57g, directly across from it.  You will need averted vision, aperture and experience to capture 57e and 57g. NGC 3751 = 57f is above 57a and is faint streak of light.

8. Hickson 58 in Leo. 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm & 7mm Pentax XW. NGC 3820 is 58e and is the galaxy at the very bottom, center, and is compact, unfocused spot ; NGC 3822 is 58a and is in the center about 2/3 up and is the brightest galaxy here. It is oval, rather faint, small and somewhat elongated with a bright inner core. NGC 3825 is 58b located up and to the right of 58a and is faint with a bright inner core almost stellar; NGC 3817 is 58c and is located slightly down and to the left of 58a, and is a small, faint, and round galaxy with a bright inner core; NGC  3819 is 58d and is between 58a and 58e, and is very small and faint, round core with a stellar nucleus. 

I may need to retake this sketch as I zoomed in and did not adjust and cut parts of the star field off. 

9. Hickson 62 in Virgo. 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm &5mm Pentax XW. NGC 4778 is 62a the brightest galaxy, largest with a bright inner core region but that is relevant as all these galaxies are small.  NGC 4776 is 62b and is right next to 62a down and to the left and is the second largest galaxy here.  It is faint and very small with a slight elongation with a bright inner core. NGC 4761 is 62c and is located down and to the right of 62a and is very small, faint and slightly elongated north to south.  NGC 4764 is 62d and is directly above 62a and is very, very faint and small and needs averted vision to locate. Once found, direct vision holds it about 2/3 of the time.  Good Hickson to test out your observing skills. 

10. Galaxy Trio 21; MCG-3-26-21; NGC 3128; NGC 3127 spiral galaxies in Hydra. 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm Pentax XW, 14mm Pentax XW; NGC 3128 is the faint central galaxy laying almost north to south and has a bright inner core region with averted vision showing hints (?) of structure.  NGC 3127 lays west to east, directly to the right of NGC 3128 and has an even surface brightness.  MCG-3-26-21 is down to the bottom right of NGC 3128 and is faint, elongated almost west to east, and has a very bright inner core. 

Next up, some double stars I have been observing on the back porch here at home since the gibbous phase of the moon is providing some clear nights.  


Article in Local Desert News by friend and outstanding reporter/writer Joe Bauman

My friend Joe Bauman wrote a wonderful piece up on my sketching in a local Salt Lake Newspaper, The Desert News. I don't toot my horn and I am not, but I will share here the article in case some are interested. Here is the Link to the article in the Desert News.

In case that were to expire sometime, here is a screenshot of the image.


The Goassamers of Coma Berenices by Sue French: An observing session in Late March.

Well, the survey results have come in and I have 32 No's that I should end this blog. So I'll keep it going. Probably a good thing since I have so much here.

Well, I got out for one night over the last week on March 28th, 2017.  Roads going out to Forest Road 006 was wet, a little muddy at pots, with the usual winter ruts from those four wheeling in the mud of winter now apparent. The Outback had no problem getting there though so all was good. Juniper Grove observing site was dry, from exposure to the Sun for the day and there was a slight breeze during setup that went away as night arrived. There was no one else out there and all was quiet except for the usual (and return) of the coyotes welcoming the night.  The snow on the Sheeprock Mountains is still deep and low as it will take some time for the snow to be melted down.  That or a good hot spell!

Here are some pics of the drive in.

I decided this night to do something different and not just work my usual NGC/IC or Herschel 2500 list. I took Sue French's Deep-Sky Wonders from May, named The Goassamers of Coma Berenices. I did not get all the objects in that chapter but many and had a wonderful evening observing them.

Here is the information that is the same across all observations.

Date: March 28th to March 29th, 2017
Conditions: Antoniadi II
Temperature: Start 44 degrees F to 36 degrees F at the end.
17.5" dob f/4.4 Star Catcher
Paracorr Type II

1. NGC 4565 an edge on spiral galaxy in Coma Berenices.  10:35pm MDT; 10mm Pentax XW.  Long edge on spiral with a very bright inner core.  Dust lane easily visible with mottling in the lane. Excellent edge on spiral to take a look at.  Edges fade into the background and rich star field evident.

2. Abell 36 or PK 318 + 41.1 Planetary Nebula in Virgo.  11:30pm MDT with 22mm T4 Nagler and 10mm Pentax XW.  Thousand Oaks OIII Filter 1 1/2" and 2".  
Planetary nebula is quite easily observed as is the central star that is easily seen.  There is some mottling near the center and brightening on the edges hinting of structure there. 

3. Hickson 61 in Coma Berenices; 12:10am MDT; 22mm T4 Nagler, 20mm Pentax XW, 14mm Pentax XW.  
HIckson 61 is a fun box of galaxies. NGC 4169 is the brightest and an elliptical galaxy with a large inner core.  It is in the center of the sketch.  NGC 4174 is above 4169 and to the right the top galaxy. NGC 4174 is a compact and even surface brightness galaxy that is rather bright.  NGC 4175 is to the right of NGC 4174 and is a little bit fainter than its neighbor, even surface brightness.  NGC 4173 is the long, faint narrow galaxy on the far right and leaning to the bottom is a very faint halo/galaxy that took inverted vision to see. It was better with the 22mm T4 Nagler overall. A fun box of galaxies to view and NGC 4173 is the  challenge object here, aperture helps with that object. 

4. Longore -Tritton Planetary Nebula in Coma Berenices. 11:00pm MDT; 22mm T4 Nagler, 17.3mm Delos; DGM and Thousand Oaks OIII Filters, 1 1/4" and 2".  

This is a really large and faint PN with a 8.8mag. central star.  Not overly hard to observe but the top sketch is more like what I saw at the eyepiece but I had issues again with my camera in regards to the lightening. I made a second sketch trying to show the half brighter part and the quarter slice that was brighter and the two other quarter parts that are fainter, one being very faint (on the top left).  My Thousand Oaks OIII 1 1/4" and 2" filters provided the best view.  As I stated, half of the PN is easily seen and the other parts needed averted vision to pull them out and good dark adaptation.

5. NGC 4559 Spiral Galaxy in Coma Berenices 10:00pm MDT 10mm Pentax & 22mm T4 Nagler. 
I have observed this galaxy before back in 2010 Link. Lays Northwest to Southeast and has a bright inner core region and oval in shape.  

6. NGC 4725 Spiral Galaxies in Coma Berenices, also known as the Tie Fighter.  11:50pm MDT; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW.  
I have observed this before back on May 28th, 2012 on my blog here, and you can compare the views and sketch. That is with a 14" and this one is the 17.5"  This is a nice, large spiral galaxy with a good dark lane present. Two outer arms is easily seen.  Has a bright inner core with a stellar nucleus. There is mottling around the core with hints of structure.  Fun observation.  


Time to End?

     Sometimes in life, as we journey, we have to consider where we are going, what we are doing and why. Now, I am not ending observing, nor am I ending going out year round in the cold, damp and mud of winter, or the hot, heat and dry conditions of summer or the dew of fall and spring and using my telescopes to continue to explore the night sky. That I love, that is a part of who I am and yep, it will continue.

     I am thinking it may be time to end the blog and as I am moving my sketches online to a Web Page, adding my observing notes there.  That would mean an end to this blog and perhaps my online presence would move to just being forgotten as I continue to observe alone and find joy in that.  So I'll leave it up to those who visit the site. I would leave the site up, for now, as a reference but create a page on my sketching web page for my observing notes and announcements. I would leave the blog up as a reference until less than 10 are coming to it a day.  In truth, a no response will tell me as much as a no response as I question if anyone finds this of interest. I'll use a Google Form to conduct the survey.

Sketches from Virgo on Coma Bernice March 2017

Okay, for the full moon period we had great weather and for a few days past that. It's new moon season and what do we have now? Yep, rain and rain and clouds and clouds. There are periods of clear nights but it is what it is and sometimes you have to go on the hunt when you can. So here are some sketches I worked on.

Was somewhat cloudy at first, but it blew out and I ended up with   . . . .

Really wonderful conditions. 

I am going to put the general observing information at the top of my posts from now on. No need to rehash all that under the sketch. For all sketches posted here:

Location: FR006 Juniper Grove
Conditions: Antoniadi I, clear, cool temperture range from 54 degrees F at sunset to 36 degrees F when I retired at 3:00a.m. Clear, crisp, Sirius had minimal twinkle this night as did the major stars below 35 degrees. Above that was no twinkle and steady seeing.
Equipment: 17.5" dob, Star Catcher; TeleVue Paracorr Type II used on all observations. Eyepieces will be listed below the sketch as will be any filters used. 22mm T4 Nagler is the finder eyepiece for all observations.
Objects Seen Not Listed:  6 open clusters, 7 elliptical galaxies in Virgo, 5 small spirals with only an outer halo and even surface brightness, no detail.

1. NGC 4501 or Messier 88 a SBc or Spiral Galaxy in the constellation of Coma Bernices. 10, 7, 5mm Pentax XW's. Wonderful spiral galaxy one I haven't visited for some time. Bright inner core with arms attached and observable. 

2. NGC 4594 or Messier 104, the Sombrero Galaxy in Virgo, an elliptical galaxy (see this link Link 1;  2012 Spitzer Discovery of elliptical and flat disc in the elliptical Link 2) 10, 7 and 5mm Pentax XW and 22mm T4 Nagler.  The dark dust lane was easily visible in the 17.5 as was the appearance of the Sombrero.  This galaxy has between 1500 and 2000 globular clusters which is a much higher rate than our own Milky Way. Then again, with an elliptical galaxy and a disc galaxy inside the elliptical, the presence of two galaxies probably helps to explain this. 

3. NGC 4559 a Spiral Galaxy in Coma Bernices.  10, 7, 5mm Pentax XW. Brighter inner halo that is slightly evident but a stellar core is easily detected. Hint of spiral structure on the outer edges of the disk. 

4. The Leo Triplet. NGC 3628, Messier 65 & 66 are all easily observed here. 26mm T5 Nagler, 22mm T4 Nagler, 17.3mm Delos, 10mm & 7mm Pentax XW for details of galaxies.  Been awhile since I did a sketch of the triplet so I undertook it as I loved the view in the Naglers and the details added by the Delos and the Pentax XW's. Great example of why using various magnifications to produce a sketch is extremely helpful.  Dust lane visible on the Hamburger or Sarah's Galaxy (NGC 3628 at the bottom) and hits of structure in Messier 66 of the arm that is different. M65 has bright inner core but not a ton of structure. Fun to spend some time here with these three again. 

5. NGC 4414 an unbarred spiral galaxy in Coma Bernices It is a flocculent spiral galaxy which means it has short segments of spiral structure but not the well defined arms of a grand design spiral galaxy. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to observe and sketch and revisit this night.  I caught three arms with averted vision in the outer structure, one arm, on top here easily seen, with a bright inner halo and a stellar nucleus.  Lots of mottling also. 

6. NGC 4536 an intermediate spiral galaxy in the constellation of Virgo. My favorite object for the night and sketch. A weakly barred spiral galaxy with moderate to loosely bound spiral arms. Mottling and both arms are easily seen. Want to see spiral arms, go to this galaxy if you have a 10 inch, or definitely a 12 inch telescope. Used the Pentax 10, 7 and 5mm on this fun galaxy! 

7. NGC 4651 a spiral galaxy in Coma Bernices.  It can appear as a large halo with a bright inner core region. Averted vision popped the arms using the 10, 7 and 5mm Pentax XW.  The top sketch is a digital highlight where I attempted to brighten the stars and the core really brightened so I include that with the sketch on the bottom. I tried using a Malincam with the scope on a equatorial platform to see if I wanted to purchase and found that though the Malincam brought out the spiral structure at my dark site, I preferred the visual view which would have limited the spiral structure. I still am interested in the Malincam for use in my backyard though. It shines there! 


Website for my Sketches

     Well I have started on a new campaign of uploading all my sketches by classifications to a website. I am using Wix and to be truthful, it is free but if you go you will see a banner at the bottom of the page and one in the upper right saying this site is made by Wix and Try it for free.  They want like $10 a month to take those banners away and it won't happen. I'll probably migrate it to Wordpress in the coming days. Until then if you want to take a look at a work in progress, go to this site at or here is the Link  and you can see the sketches I have uploaded so far. They are basically classified as Galaxies, Planetary Nebula, Nebula, Globular Clusters, Double Stars, Lunar, Planetary, Solar etc.  I have uploaded a start of my sketches, but have a long way to go and need to clean up the duplicates that have sneaked into the page. But it will give you a feeling for what I am trying to document with my sketching since 2007 or so.  Here is what you'll see when you go there and under the Jay in Utah Astro Sketches are the classification areas that hold the sketches.


Sketching: Realistic, Art or Fabrication?

     Sketching as an art form has been around for hundreds of years, if not thousands.  In that bastion of knowledge, Wikipedia we find the following definition that I actually like:

"Sketching is a rapidly executed freehand drawing that is not usually intended as a finished work. A sketch may serve a number of purposes: it might record something that the artist sees (or observer sees), it might record or develop an idea for later use or it might be used as a quick way of graphically demonstrating an image, idea or principle."

     In astronomical sketching I have seen a variety of these methods and ways and have used several mediums myself. Many of the sketches I post here on my blog are field sketches, right off observing from the eyepiece. They are raw for the most part, very raw and capture what I am seeing at that moment. At one point my goal was to sketch the complete Herschel 2500 so when I got one of these faint objects, I sketched it quickly, as thoroughly as I could and the result is that often stars are not rounded, some detail is left off on those fainter Herschel. On the other hand, when I come across something very interesting to me I take my time, I sketch the stars as circles, and I add as much detail to the object(s) will reveal and I can discover using my observing techniques and different magnification of eyepieces.

     Some of these sketches I am extremely happy with, proud of and display them knowing I nailed how they viewed to me. Since I use the Mellish method, of pastel chalk on black paper, applied with brushes and a couple of other tools, I find that my approach often delivers what I am trying to do. If I am a hurry, or if I am having a frustrating night, something I am sure most observers can relate with, my sketching suffers. So if I post what I call a raw sketch, it is that, raw and sometimes once home, I will redo the sketch with the details I had written in white ink, star placements and the object with details.  Other times as the business of life presses on me, I leave the sketch as is and post that.

     Another option I have done and am currently redoing is using GIMP to process my sketches and add detail to the raw sketch that I have made. I can round my stars there, add details that I had recorded or rapidly put down and come up with an end product or finished work that I really like. One of the biggest frustrations I have is how to photograph my sketches of pastel chalk on black paper. I have figured that out sometimes, and then forgotten that as a bad season of weather impacts my observing.

     Yet another item that I fight with is the notion that sketching as an art form and artists who are more concerned with an end product that impresses than one that reflects what a real observer will see at the eyepiece. What I get sometimes is that REALLY what you or another sketcher has seen in the eyepiece? I have struggled with that from time to time and have come to the conclusion that art is art, and needs to be labeled as art and a sketch or art that reflects the eyepiece view in reality needs to be just that. Here is an example of what I am talking about.

The image above is from Wikipedia on NGC 1535 LINK and the credit is: 

Credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

This is an actual image captured by Adam Block. 

Here is my sketch of NGC 1535 sketched several years ago from Mike Clements 72" reflector. However, I would also state this is art as it is made from notes and an outline sketch that I made. I relied on the above image and others to help me  bring out the details. So to me this is simply an art reflection and why until now, I have never shared it. 

     In the sketch/art work I did capture the three distinct 3 dark green patters I saw from the core and a light green patch across from the central star. Overall, I like this sketch/art work though I would have been softer on the splotches. Yet for me, done totally in GIMP, this is art. 

     Now I am going to post some raw sketches and post GIMP digitally processed versions of these sketches. You can determine if you like the raw sketch or the digitally processed GIMP version. In the end though, I believe the thing that is the most important, is that the outcome reflects what someone using your scope would most likely see (it will differ since my eyes and experience are my eyes and experience and someone else may have more or less, be older or young, observes traditionally from a backyard in suburbia or from a dark site like I do. All factors and lets not forget sky conditions and local conditions that impact the view) for themselves. 

Sirius A & B 

     The top is the raw sketch that I made of Sirius A and Sirius B and the bottom is the same sketched, enhanced in GIMP to reflect Sirius A's brilliance and Sirius B in relation to A and without spikes from a curved spider. For me I feel the GIMP processed sketch on the bottom reflects truly what I saw at the eyepiece, though the top one is fine also. 

NGC 5139 Omega Centuri 

 This top one is the processed sketch in GIMP. I added a brighter core, added brighter stars and added structure to the glob. This is an uneven edge, stars evident and mottling hinting of more stars. This is close to what I saw but ask is it artistic after looking at the next three? 

This is my original sketch of NGC 5139 Omega Centauri. You can see the unven edges, the brighter inner core and the mottling hinting of other stars. This was done in pastel chalk, white pencil and white gel ink.  This is the version that for me is the best, though the top one comes very, very close in GIMP, with the core perhaps too bright now that I found the original. 

My first process in GIMP with not the fading and uneven edges that I saw, more of a blob.  Looks like a ball with points of light on it, not as good as the top sketch and a little less like what I saw in the eyepiece. 

The original raw sketch after I had taken an image of it and killed it. I lost the detail, the large inner core, the uneven edges and mottling that hints of stars.  For me the top image where I took the sketch, added the detail based on notes and observation in my 17.5" f/4.4 dob with the 22mm T4 and 26mm T5 Nagler is my sketch of this object. Having said that, the one in my sketch pad is more like the top one and is the model I used for it, and that is my favorite. I have to figure out a way to include them. So art nor not, the top image here is the one that is the winner for me and I guess that is what matters, since it is my sketch and that is my final product! 

Note: I added sketch two, the original version once I located the sketch on file. I have to remember how to capture my actual sketches that way. 

Messier 101 Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major

The sketch above is meant to be my final product for Messier 101 in my 17.5" f/4.4.  I processed it in GIMP and the stars are indeed more popping, but I lost the background structure or oval of the galaxy and the arms are sticking out with their HII regions way to bright.  

Here is the original and if ONLY I could have captured it with the whiteness of the stars and lighter gray of the HII regions popping with the stars, this by far is a better sketch and end product in my opinion. The only thing I needed was to pop those stars and the pastel chalk and that is me figuring out my DSLR camera.  

NGC 5068 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo 

This is my original raw sketch of NGC 5068 that I captured and was rather pleased with the capture. The galaxy and pastel chalk are a little too blue here, but you can see the structure and detail of the original sketch. The original on my pad was wonderful and I love my capture of the spiral structure on the right and left side. To me this is a final product. 

Same sketch above as the first but two items have happen. I failed to take the image with my Canon DSLR correctly and some of the pastel chalk has faded off.  The result is I do not like this capture or display. The original is far, far better. 

Here is the digital rendition and again for me, the original on top is the best final product for me. I like my star field here but it is just missing the details of the pastel chalk that the top one gave from a 45 minute sketching and observing session. You can decide but for me, the first one though a sketch, resulted in a final product and is artistic also. 

NGC 5170 Edge on Galaxy in Virgo

Above is my original sketch of NGC 5170 and I LOVE this sketch. I love the effort I put into it and the forcing of an observer to the sketch to use averted vision if you want to see it elongated.  I like my star field and I love the fact that I can look at that sketch and remember observing it.  I love the dark lane near the core, and the bright inner core region. My 17.5" was truly strutting it's stuff on this object with great conditions and an experience observer! 

Same object, actually same sketch as you can see the wire binding on the right side but here I have darkened the background, laid in a long slender galaxy, with a bright inner core.  Hint of a dark lane is there but the length you can see, you don't need averted vision like in the top sketch.  I added some stars, not many but a few to the field (I am beginning to think on star fields to only put in the bright stars and leave the actual stars and the one I place for affect out). I much prefer the top sketch and am great with it as a final product. 

NGC 5426 & NGC 5427 

The top is the original sketch and it is mis-shapen to me, but that I how I wrote it down in my notes. NGC 5426 the bottom galaxy in this sketch has mottling which I saw and overall I had to admit I am not bias to either version of this sketch. 

The GIMP version of the sketch shrunken down a little and brighter.  Perhaps closer to the shapes I saw in the eyepiece. Again, no bias either way. 

Rosette Nebula Caldwell 49 (Yes, I know most do not like that term)

Here is an example of a sketch I did that I never processed, I nailed the taking of its image and it has never been processes because I don't think I can improve on it. It took many hours and two back to back nights of observing to nail this. Others may disagree but for me, I just love how it came out. Artistic, probably, what I saw, yes when I combine the wide field views together. 

Messier 16 The Eagle Nebula 

Done several summers ago, I got the Pillars of Creation and the nebula nicely. Never processed as the time and effort I felt I had a final product and I do. 

B33 The Horsehead Nebula 

Stephen Waldee did a through and complete measurement of the sketch and the position of the Horsehead and its shape and found that I was right on with this sketch.  As such there was no need to repeat it or redo it so it has stood. 

NGC 2362 Tau Cluster 

So here is NGC 2362 the Tau Cluster in Canis Major and my favorite open cluster. I took my sketch, took its picture, loaded it up on my computer in my folder I keep for that observing session, brought it up in GIMP and added the stars and brightness to them and color tint as I see it. To me this is what I see on NGC 2362 but my question is, is it digital art or is it a sketch? Call it what you will, it is an end product for me and shows what I see. 

     So, what is my point in all of this? Over the last five years in the sketching world I have seen sketching evolve to the point that I see a lot of great sketchers and great digital sketchers and the product they make, is not only photographic, but amazing. Some of have asked me if I think that is what they are really seeing? The question seems to be is what is being done in the name of sketching real, or is it someone just using art or digital art to impress others? I laugh when I hear that. The greater question is does it really matter? Realistic sketching or art or just simply space art, does it matter? Enjoy what the sketcher or artist is bringing. In truth what most imagers product is not what the image probably really looks like either. It is the colors we assign to the parts of the object. 

      The most important item for me moving forward is to continue to create the image that I am seeing in my eyepiece in the scope I am using and share that. To me that is key to whether a sketch or final work of art passes the muster. I never question an observer on what they see, I am not there, in their seeing conditions with their instrument. In the end it doesn't matter. What matters is that I am enjoying sketching as a way to observe and sharpen my observing skills and I am happy with whatever end product I product. Now to go and play with my Canon Rebel DSLR to figure out how to take photos of my sketches so they are like the ones I posted today. 
     Keep on sketching, keep on observing, the weather will pass, I hope.