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The Belt of Venus rises behind the Discovery Channel Telescope On June 17th, I joined Tom and Jennifer Polakis, Michael Collins and Stephen Levine at the Discovery Channel Telescope for a special visual observing project that Tom coordinated with Lowell Observatory, the DCT team and Astronomy Magazine. My role in...
Sketch sequence of the International Space StationClick image to view larger version. Satellite path sketch from September 16, 2012Click image to view larger version. Subject:International Space Station Issue:November 2012 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white stock, pastel on black stock, and digital media Featured Technique:Telescopic sketching of the International Space...
Article by Peter Grego Subject:Lunar Terrain Issue:October 2012 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white stock, or digital media Featured Technique:Using a lunar map template to prepare for the field sketch. Pencil and digital methods are discussed. Suggested Sketching Materials: Graphite pencils as dark as 4B/5B, sharpened eraser, and white stock...
Article by Erika Rix Subject:Lunar Terrain Issue:September 2012 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Black ink on white stock Featured Technique:Using ink stippling to render lunar terrain Suggested Sketching Materials: Clipboard with white acid-free paper Black, felt-tipped artist's pen Graphite pencil and white vinyl rubber...
Sketch Gallery ExampleClick image to view larger version. Subject:Web Sketch Galleries Issue:August 2012 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Web galleries Featured Technique:Options for making your sketches available for others to view on the internet Suggested Materials: Scanner Image editing software such as GIMP or Adobe Photoshop Internet connection...
Article by Erika Rix Subject:Solar Prominences Issue:July 2012 Astronomy Now Basic Media:White pastel on black stock Featured Technique:Sketching solar prominences in H-Alpha Suggested Sketching Materials: Clipboard with black acid-free paper (such as Strathmore Artagain 400 Series 60 lb.) White Conté crayon and pencil White color pencil Black oil-based pencil Rubber...
Article by Peter Grego Subject:The Transit of Venus Issue:June 2012 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white stock Featured Technique:Sketching the transit of Venus, including aureole and black drop effect. Suggested Sketching Materials: Smooth, white cartridge paper with 150 mm circle template 3B graphite pencil and black graphics pen...
Diffraction Pattern Sketches of RasalgethiClick image to view larger version. Subject:Rasalgethi Issue:February 2012 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white stock and digital media Featured Technique:Methods for sketching double star diffraction patters Suggested Sketching Materials: #2 or HB graphite pencil White paper or sketch template with a 3-5 inch (8-13 cm)...
Article by Peter Grego Subject:Saturn Issue:April 2012 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white stock Featured Technique:Capturing the subtle features of Saturn and its rings Suggested Sketching Materials: Drawing blank printed on 120 gsm laser paper 2B graphite pencil White pastel Blending stump...
Article by Erika Rix Subject:Mars Issue:March 2012 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Charcoal on white stock Featured Technique:Using charcoal and blending techniques to sketch Mars Suggested Sketching Materials: Clipboard with white acid-free drawing paper Assortment of compressed charcoal in pencil and stick forms White vinyl eraser pencil (with craft knife for shaping)...
Positive Sketch of Messier 1Click image to view larger version. Original Negative Sketch of Messier 1Click image to view larger version. Subject:Messier 1 Issue:February 2012 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white stock Featured Technique:Reasons and methods for sketching Suggested Sketching Materials: White sketch paper 2H and HB graphite pencils Blending...
Article by Peter Grego Subject:Motion of Mars Issue:January 2012 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white stock Featured Technique:Tracking Mars' motion across the stars Suggested Sketching Materials: Printer and white paper (to print observing blanks from your planetarium program) Pencil (2B to plot Mars on the observing blank) Scanner and graphics...
Article by Erika Rix Subject:Eratosthenes Crater Issue:December 2011 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Charcoal on white stock Featured Technique:Detailed Lunar terrain sketching with charcoal Suggested Sketching Materials: Clipboard and white, acid-free drawing paper Assortment of compressed charcoal in pencil and stick forms White vinyl eraser pencil (with craft knife for shaping) and...
Article by Peter Grego Subject:Galilean Moons Issue:October 2011 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white stock Featured Technique:Capturing the movements of the Galilean Moons Suggested Sketching Materials: Red flashlight A5 sketchpad (100 gsm smooth white paper, pre-drawn 125 mm circular template) 2B and 4B graphite pencils Pencil sharpener Blending stump...
Article by Peter Grego Subject:Jupiter Issue:September 2011 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white stock Featured Technique:Capturing Jupiter's dynamic appearance Suggested Sketching Materials: Jupiter blank printed on smooth white paper (preferably at least 100 gsm) HB, 2B and 4B graphite pencils Blending stump Eraser (putty or trimmed vinyl)...
Some lively discussion erupted recently on the Amastro email list about what constitutes a proper astronomical sketch. The spark for the conversation was this remarkably detailed sketch of M101: http://www.klima-luft.de/steinicke/M101.htm Although the example sketch is posted to Wolfgang Steinicke's site, this is not his sketch. It was made by...
It was just a month ago that I had the pleasure of meeting Neil Armstrong in person and listening to him speak--he was vibrant, focused, and inspiring. Sadly, it turned out to be his last public appearance. He passed away this weekend after complications from heart surgery. I just finished...
A first light celebration for the Discovery Channel Telescope was held Saturday night (July 21, 2012). The company I work for is a sponsor of Lowell Observatory and I was one of the four people representing us there. The special treat of the night was that Neil Armstrong would be...

Pinterest Buttons Added

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If you are a Pinterest user, I've added Pin It buttons to the site. Feel free to pin away. My only request is to please keep the return links intact. Many thanks to Blake McCreary for providing the perfect javascript button for the job (it would have been unmanageable to...
Positive sketch of Messier 31 and CompanionsClick image to view larger version. Original negative sketch of Messier 31 and CompanionsClick image to view larger version. Subject:Messier 31 and Companions Issue:November 2011 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white stock Featured Technique:Capturing the broad dynamic range and subtle dust lanes of Messier...

Drawn to the Universe Update

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If you've been keeping up with Astronomy Now over the last few months, you've probably noticed that Peter Grego contributed two articles on sketching techniques for Jupiter and its moons. And now in the new December issue you will find an article by Erika Rix on lunar crater sketching. I'm...
Sketch of NGC 6888Click image to view larger version. Subject:NGC 6888 Issue:August 2011 Astronomy Now Basic Media:White charcoal on black stock Featured Technique:Following Scott Mellish's technique to apply white charcoal powder using paint brushes to create subtle nebulosity. Suggested Sketching Materials: Smooth, black cardstock such as Daler-Rowney Canford White charcoal...
Mare NectarisClick image to view larger version. Subject:Mare Nectaris Issue:July 2011 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Charcoal on white stock Featured Technique:Sketching a broad lunar region by shading a base layer of charcoal and then adding charcoal or subtracting with erasers to refine details. Suggested Sketching Materials: Acid free sketch paper Charcoal...
H-Alpha Sketch of SunClick image to view larger version. Subject:H-Alpha Sun Issue:June 2011 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite and erasers white stock Featured Technique:Preparing an H-Alpha Solar Sketch that captures surface features and prominences along the limb. Suggested Sketching Materials: Clipboard and acid-free drawing paper HB and 2H graphite pencils Charcoal...
Sketch of SaturnClick image to view larger version. Subject:Saturn Issue:May 2011 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite and white pastel on pre-printed template Featured Technique:Sketching features on Saturn's disc and rings with optional info on colorizing with digital media. Suggested Sketching Materials: Saturn template printed on white, acid-free paper or card stock....
Positive Sketches of Messier 81 and Messier 82Click image to view larger version. Original Negative Sketch of Messier 81 and Messier 82Click image to view larger version. Original Negative Sketch of Messier 81 and Messier 82Click image to view larger version. Subject:Messier 81 and Messier 82 Issue:April 2011 Astronomy Now...
M1 - M20Large Version M21 - M40Large Version M41 - M60Large Version   M61 - M80Large Version M81 - M100Large Version M101 - M110Large Version Subject:Sketching the Messier Marathon Issue:March 2011 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on Plain Paper Templates Featured Technique:Strategy for sketching your way through the Messier Marathon...

Thoughts on Pirated Books

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Digital distribution of media on the web has changed a lot of things for content creators. I don't philosophize about this much, so I'm not sure how satisfying this little ramble will be. You can lament the effect that the digital age has had on copyright infringement as much as...
Positive Sketch of AurigaClick image to view larger version. Original Negative Sketch of AurigaClick image to view larger version. Subject:Messier 42/43 Issue:February 2011 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on White Paper Featured Technique:Techniques for careful placement of framework stars and Milky Way depiction when working on a naked eye sketch. Suggested...
Positive Sketches of Messier 42/43 from dark sky and light polluted skyClick image to view larger version. Original Negative Sketches of Messier 42/43 from dark sky and light polluted skyClick image to view larger version. Subject:Messier 42/43 Issue:January 2011 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on White Paper Featured Technique:Sketching an object...
Sketch of Twilight Lunar-Planetary Conjunction - AUG 13, 2010 Move mouse over sketch above to view labels.Click image for larger version.  Digital conjunction sketch by Carlos Hernandez included in the columnWaning Crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter on April 22, 2009 (09:30 U.T.)  Subject:Twilight Planetary Conjunction Issue:December 2010 Astronomy Now...
Positive Sketch of NGC 663Click image to view larger version. Original Negative Sketch of NGC 663Click image to view larger version. Subject:NGC 663 Issue:November 2010 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on White Paper Featured Technique:Sketching comfortably in cold weather and keeping your sketching materials at hand and organized. Suggested Sketching Materials:...
Positive Sketch of 2010 PerseidsClick image to view larger version. Negative Sketch of 2010 PerseidsClick image to view larger version. Original Sketch of 2010 Perseids on Gnomonic Atlas TemplateClick image to view larger version. The October 2010 column describes methods for sketching and annotating a meteor shower observation. Also featured...
Sketch of Cygnus Loop/Veil NebulaClick image to view larger version. This expansive supernova remnant is a visual treat from dark skies. In this column, we sketch the entire field using white charcoal/pastel on black paper. Subject:Veil Nebula/Cygnus Loop Issue:September 2010 Astronomy Now Basic Media:White Charcoal/Pastel Pencils on Black Paper Featured...
Positive Sketch of C/2009 R1 (McNaught)Click image to view larger version. Original Negative Sketch of C/2009 R1 (McNaught)Click image to view larger version. Bright comet C/2009 R1 (McNaught) is the subject of this month's column. We look at graphite techniques for sketching a comet, and optional digital colorizing of the...
Sketch of Crescent Moon and EarthshineClick image to view larger version. The stunning view of a thin crescent moon cradling a bubble of Earthshine is irresistible. This column describes the use of white and black charcoal pencils on black paper to capture the scene. Subject:Crescent Moon with Earthshine Issue:July 2010...
Graphite and Charcoal Sketch of the SunClick image to view larger version. Solar activity is on the increase and white light observing is starting to get interesting again. This article describes white light full disc and detail sketching using graphite on white paper. Subject:White Light Sun Issue:June 2010 Astronomy Now...
Inverted, Positive Sketch of Messier 101 Move mouse over image to view labelsClick for larger version. Original Pencil Sketch of Messier 101Click image to view larger version. From a dark site, Messier 101 rewards determined observation with spiral structure and embedded H II regions. Subject:Messier 101 Issue:May 2010 Astronomy...
Inverted, Positive Sketch of Markarian's Chain Move mouse over image to view labelsClick for larger version. Original Pencil Sketch of Markarian's ChainClick image to view larger version. Markarian's Chain is overflowing with galactic treasures and is the subject of the April 2010 column. Subject:Markarian's Chain Issue:April 2010 Astronomy Now...
Tau and 83 Leonis make a stunning and colorful low power double-double and are the subject of March 2010 Drawn to the Universe Column in Astronomy Now. Subject:Tau and 83 Leonis Issue:March 2010 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on Paper and Digital Editing Featured Technique:Using image editing software to create digital...

Cinder Hills Overlook

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Orion, Canis Major and the Winter Milky Way soar over Sunset Crater as seen from Cinder Hills Overlook Cinder Hills Overlook is a cul-de-sac at the top of a small hill on the eastern edge of Sunset Crater National Monument. The site is situated amid a stunning volcanic landscape...
Mars is making its closest approach of 2010 on January 27. The red planet can be challenging to observe, but sketching your observations will help you get the most from the view at the eyepiece. In the February issue of Astronomy Now, we cover methods you can use to sketch...
The winter Milky Way is moving into view. Although it's not as bold as its summer counterpart, it still has much to offer the naked eye from a dark site. In the January issue of Astronomy Now, we'll look at some methods you can use to capture the Milky Way...
NGC 2024 and its brilliant neighbor Alnitak are the subjects for the December 2009 Astronomy Now issue. While Alnitak can be a bit of a nuisance when observing the Flame Nebula, it also provides an opportunity to sketch a striking example of deep sky contrasts. Subject:NGC 2024 (Flame Nebula) and...
The Lunar crater, Ptolemaeus is the subject of the November 2009 Drawn to the Universe column. The focus is on creating a crater sketch along the rapidly changing terminator. In the tutorial, we use of 2H and HB pencils to shade the deep shadows and lighter surrounding terrain, while using...
The October issue of Astronomy Now focuses on NGC 7662, the Blue Snowball nebula. Two methods are covered in this column: 1) Using an isophote (contour) field sketch as a basis for a final shaded drawing, and 2) using Photoshop to add subtle color to the scanned drawing. Subject:NGC 7662...

Drawn to the Universe
SEP 2009 - Jupiter

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The September issue of Astronomy Now features Jupiter and the impact region that appeared in July 2009. The column describes methods that can be used to create a graphite sketch of the planet and its moons. Subject:Jupiter, Impact Scar, Callisto and Shadow Transit Issue:September 2009 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on...
The August issue of Astronomy Now is available. The rich, open cluster NGC 6940 is featured in this column where we take a look at basic methods for scanning and inverting your black on white sketches to convert them to white on black positives. Subject:NGC 6940 Issue:August 2009 Astronomy Now...
The July issue of Astronomy Now is available. In the column this month, we visit Barnard 142 & 143, (Barnard's E, or the Triple Cave Nebula). Subject:Barnard 142 & 143 Issue:July 2009 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Charcoal and graphite on artist grade paper. Featured Technique:Use of charcoal, artist's chamois, plastic eraser...
One of the great values I attach to astronomical sketches is that they can help convey what an object looks like visually much better than a photograph can. However, there are some caveats I've been wanting to discuss. What you see in a well-executed sketch is not necessarily what the...

Something Turquoise Sails North

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Article written for the Coconino Astronomical Society, February 2005 Newsletter Back in elementary school, I remember dwelling on books with beautiful pictures of Halley's Comet. Sweeping by every 76 years, seeing it was a once-in-a-lifetime event (or twice if you're born at the right time I suppose). According to those...
This past weekend I made a presentation to the CAS at Lowell Observatory about Visually Observable Comets for 2006. Preparing it turned out to be an excellent education for me in ways I hadn't expected. I wanted to generate ideal observing times and animations of the paths of C/2005 E2...

Orion Skyview Pro 6LT EQ Redux

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Over the past year and a half, I've managed to get some great observing out of this 150mm newtonian. With the great skies around Flagstaff, I've been able to see some incredibly beautiful sights, and a healthy dose of next-to-nothing sights. My main complaint has been with the responsiveness of...
The 2009 All Arizona Messier Marathon has been over for a few days. And only now have I been able to recover my senses enough to write about it. My first Messier Marathon in 2006 was plagued by a clouds, and was only able to log an even 100 objects....
The June issue of Astronomy Now is now available. This month's column features the colorful double, Struve 2259 in Hercules. Subject:Struve 2259 Issue:June 2009 Astronomy Now Basic Media:White ink marker, white pastel and colored pastel pencil on black paper. Featured Technique:Using white ink along with white and colored pastel to...
I just received a copy of the November 2008 issue of Astronomy Now. The Focus section this month is dedicated to visual observing and sketching. I had the pleasure of preparing one of the articles, "How to Draw the Universe". Peter Grego wrote the article "Moonwalking". Neil Bone and Keith...
Photograph of Columbia Scientific Balloon AssemblyJune 11, 2009 - 8:42 PM MSTClick image to view larger version. One evening, earlier in June I read an email alert that a scientific balloon was crossing central Arizona. I ran outside with my family to check it out. To the naked eye, it...
The way the contours of this galaxy danced and materialized with increased dark adaptation, averted vision, and patience was particularly enjoyable. When I first centered my telescope on the galaxy, it was easy to spot and appeared elongated with a strongly condensed core. With time spent at the eyepiece, the...
Subject:Messier 51 (NGC 5194/5195) Issue:April 2009 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white paper Featured Technique:Use of blending stump and kneaded eraser (putty rubber) to build progressively fainter details in a sketch. Suggested Materials: Strathmore 80# drawing paper 2H and HB drafting pencils Blending stump White plastic eraser Kneaded eraser...
Subject:Messier 3 (NGC 5272) Issue:May 2009 Astronomy Now Basic Media:Graphite on white paper Featured Technique:Using stippling to indicate granularity in a globular cluster. Suggested Materials: Strathmore 80# drawing paper HB, 2H and 4H drafting pencils Blending stump White plastic eraser Kneaded eraser (Putty rubber) Clipboard and adjustable red light...
If you are a galaxy cluster chaser, you've probably been rummaging through the Hickson clusters on a regular basis. I am not a seasoned Hickson observer--not even close. The only one I've tracked down is Hickson 92: Stephan's Quintet...and even then, I wasn't able to see all 5 members. An...
A few months ago, I invested in a Meade 12 mm Astrometric Eyepiece that I could use in measuring double stars. I calibrated the eyepiece scale in June, and have used a few times since them. I'm definitely at the novice stage of using this eyepiece to measure doubles, but...
7) Insert the barlow through the hole in the protractor disc to check for fit. The fit should be snug and some twisting and wiggling may be needed to insert it the first time. If it is too snug, use your knife to evenly trim out a bit more material...
Calibrating the separation scale 1) Pick several stars from a list of calibration doubles. The table on page 3 of Ronald Charles Tanguay's article "Observing Double Stars for Fun and Science" is an excellent resource. Look for wider doubles to help reduce estimating errors. 2) Rotate the eyepiece so that...
What motivates an amateur astronomer to hunker down over an eyepiece and draw what they see? Have you ever looked at an astronomical sketch and wondered why the artist handled it the way they did? If you are a long-time astronomical sketcher, you probably have a some goals and methods...

Stargazing Glasses

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A couple months ago, I got around to testing some diopter flippers I borrowed from my optometrist. I was really REALLY impressed with the clarity they gave my naked-eye observing. I had the results of my test quickly digested into a set of stargazing glasses. I ended up requesting an...
The Willard Springs Road observing site as viewed from the eastern entry point, facing west. The Willard Springs Road observing site is a cindered clearing in the middle of ponderosa forest 14 miles south of Flagstaff on I-17. The available observing area is large and receives a nice windbreak...

The Cerulean Arc

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