Archive for September, 2015

With the support of friends

Today like on most days I received an electronic communication from my good friend in America, Thomas McCague an avid astronomer who writes and sketches under the non deplume of Frank McCabe and that is how I address him, Frank or more latterly as Frankie. Today Frank sent me another of his super lunar pastel sketches. As I am not doing enough astronomy & sketching of my own of late, I’m going to start adding the work of my talented friends to my Blog to keep it flowing and to add interest to for anyone who drops by to read it.


Without further ado, here is Frank’s excellent work and in his own words a detailed description to accompany.


 Murchison – Pallus Crater Region at Sunrise

Murchison – Pallus Crater Region at Sunrise



I chose for sketching a highland region inside the triad of the Bays of Medii and Aestuum and the Sea of Vapors. The center of this region contains the crater pair Pallas and Murchison. Crater Pallas (50km.) is a Nectarian period formation. It has a partially buried central peak at 1.3 km. above the lava flooded floor. Murchison (58 km.) which is the oldest of the pair shows the greatest amount of wear. Lava flooded floor, severe wall erosion, and strikes such as Chladni (13.8 km.) on the southeastern wall are among the features that demonstrate the age of this crater. All that remains of the common wall of Pallas-Murchison are pieces of ridge wall. Well known crater Triesnecker is visible to the east along with parts of its rimae. Hyginus (10 km.) and its rima were well seen to the north. All presented a nice view near the terminator despite the low altitude of the Moon.





For this sketch I used: black Strathmore 400 Artagain paper, white and black Conte’

pastel pencils and a blending stump. Contrast and brightness were slightly increased after scanning.

Telescope: 10 inch f/ 5.7 Dobsonian and 9 mm eyepiece 161X

Date: 09-20-2015, 00:05-01:45 UT

Temperature: 18° C (65° F)

Clear, calm

Seeing: Antoniadi III

Colongitude 0.8 °

Lunation 7.5 days

Illumination 44 %


Frank McCabe


A great time at the Kelling Heath Star Party

The 2015 Autumn Kelling Star Party was great, fair skies on 3 nights, one was clear all night. I observed with various scopes, including my own 14” with which I had my fist visual observation of the ‘bubble neb’ NGC 7635 in Cass. I was quite pleased with myself for finding it as I’m dreadfully rusty on the ‘push to’ front! Had some great chats with fellow astro artist Sally Russell and she observed with me for a while too which was special.

My 14” performed very well, it was really the first time that I had used it properly; many people found the spiders living in the tube very funny. Es Reid accompanied me as usual and was on good form and we had great banter, although he was his usual evasive self when it came to doing camping chores


Our pal Graham ‘Spadge’ Sparrow turned up on Sat morning, hot from walking in the Highlands of Scotland and getting eaten alive by midges, he made his traditional veggie curry on Sat night (chick pea & potato) into it went 28 cloves of garlic and some super hot scotch bonnet chillies!  Washed down with beer, red wine and single malt whisky from the Highlands! Much hilarity and political incorrectness was enjoyed 🙂


On one night I worked with Es’s Canon binoculars, 12×50’s image stabilised although the IS was not working! With patience and under a dark sky I was quite amazed to see M57, M71, M51, M27, M81 & M82 all with great certainty, brighter objects Double cluster, M31 & M32 the open clusters up through Auriga, M36, M38 & M37 were a delight as was M35 & the North America Neb, it just went to remind me that you don’t need big telescopes to enjoy the beauty of the night sky!


On the subject of binoculars, friend Stephen Loveday shared his lovely APM 100mm mounted binoculars with me, they have interchangeable eyepieces (standard 1.25”) and gave absolutely delightful views, memorable moments were sweeping up M13, M92 and NGC 6229 in a single run, tracking a satellite right across the sky, a pretty decent view of M3 1and a jaw dropping view of M31/M32.  Steve & I also enjoyed a musical jam, he on guitar, me on harmonica, induced by Tom Moss Davies’s fine Glenfiddich malt whisky 🙂

APM Binoculars

APM Binoculars



Andrew’s superb 18” Dobsonian delivered some outstanding views, especially of planetary nebulae, Abell PN’s 80 & 86 come to mind, also NGC 1514 the ‘Crystal ball’ in Taurus and my first ever view of the ‘Pac man’ nebula in Cass.

Andrew Robertson and his 18" Dob

Andrew Robertson and his 18″ Dob


Scope size for visual observing continues to get bigger! There was a home built 30” F3 there from Liverpool, and 4 or more 24” scopes, that size appears to be the aim now for serious deep sky visual observers! There was a French manufacturer ‘Skyvision’ in attendance with a very nicely made 24” driven & fully goto Dob. Martin Lewis, Alan Marriot, Es Reid and other telescope designers and engineers were invited to appraise the big Skyvision telescopes and feed back to the manufacturers.




I didn’t do any shopping at the trade stands, but I was interested in the new ‘live view’ CCD camera being demonstrated by friend Steve Chambers of Atik cameras as it basically mimics what my current analogue video cameras do, and very effectively too!


That is it really, the old Merc pulled the caravan well returning 33mpg over the journey, the caravan was cosy as always and remains an amazing buy at £850 7 years ago, may it last for many more years. 🙂


These links will take you to Martin Lewis’s excellent All Sky camera recording of Kelling night skies for the Frid & Sat


Friday night;

Saturday night;



Best wishes, Dale


galaxies close to NGC 7006 in Delphinus

Blog Friday 21st August 2015


My good friend in Chicago, USA, Frank Mcabe kindly brought my attention to a very interesting Deep Sky article in Sky & Telescope magazine by Ken Hewitt-White “Small globular, tiny galaxies’ which takes a look at faint galaxies close to the not so dazzling globular cluster NGC 7006 in Delphinus. On this end of the working week evening the sky offered me the opportunity to take a look for myself.

Ken Hewitt-White Small Globular, tiny galaxies

Now Ken observes visually with a 17.5” telescope so I was confident that my own 20” video assisted set up would catch all that he had seen and more.

My first intention was to get mag 10.6 NGC 7006 onto the monitor and then get the galaxies closest if they fitted down as a sketch. This worked well; the globular took a little while to sketch to a point that I was happy it was a reasonable representation. PGC 65907 which is the closest galaxy to the GC stood out nicely and then to the upper right in my sketch we can see upper most the nice edge on PGC 65908 elongated N-S this forms a galaxy triangle with PGC 1501723 which showed as having a ragged profile on my monitor and another tiny smudge of a galaxy noted as “anon” by Ken which is very close to a star. This I must say was a very pleasing observation 🙂

NGC 7006 and local galaxies

NGC 7006 and local galaxies

Next again prompted by Ken’s notes I pushed the scope just over the border into Pegasus which was a close hop away to look at NGC 7034 & 7033, these close pair at mag 13.8 and 14.1 respectively are interesting enough as a 2 for 1 view but don’t even hint at structure, what was more exciting was the faint pair of elongated smudges to the left in my sketch (which actually turned out to be 3 galaxies when I researched)

NGC 7034 & 7033 plus faint neighbours

NGC 7034 & 7033 plus faint neighbours

Finally I noted an open cluster close by on my planetarium software so before closing down I decided to take a slew there. I panned around a little until I was sure I was in the centre of the cluster, unfortunately it was too large to be accommodated in my approx 12’ x 12’ fov. Once the image settled I turned up the exposure and revealed 3 close galaxies, in a line E-W and obviously faint, all had differing outlines, I was unable to identify but feel they made a nice view & sketch.

Centre of open cluster NGC 7036 with faint galaxies

Centre of open cluster NGC 7036 with faint galaxies

And so to bed, Dale

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