Monday, April 23, 2012

Astronomical Sketching

One of the activities we've been doing in astronomy is astronomical sketching. We take time to view different celestial targets through a telescope/binoculars, and sketch the field of view into the eyepiece. This activity helps sharpen an astronomer's visual observing skills, and also helps the observer to be more familiar with the object and how it really looks like through the eyepiece. The process is much more time consuming (some open clusters can take roughly 30 mins to sketch), however the results of a good sketch can be rewarding.

To the left is a lunar sketch of the Copernicus crater.
Lunar sketching helps you practice your ability to do shading and helps you study the structure of the moon's surface.

Here is a sketch of the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8) in Sagittarius as observed from a 6" Newtonian with a 25mm WA eyepiece. The sketch has been inverted in MS Paint to resemble the actual appearance as seen in the eyepiece. The nebulosity is created by gentle smudges of pencil. One can make use of a paper stump to get better smudges.

Here is a sketch of the Scorpius Jewel Box (NGC 6281).
For open clusters such as this, one will strive for accuracy in their drawings. What I usually do is form triangles between stars, or lines of three stars, taking careful note of the spaces between them.

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