Archive for December, 2015

Blowing a gale

Well I got out just after 5am this morning for the comet, but the wind prevented serious study of Catalina, my best view was with the 80mm F5 finder and 22mm Nagler ep, giving a lovely view of comet fuzz and dazzling Arcturus in the same FOV.
When I eventually got the comet showing on the monitor with both the 6″ and 505mm Newt I had to keep the frame refresh so short that no detail was shown due to extreme scope shake in the strong gusting wind.
So I gave up and took a trip to the lunar terminator, en route as the mount slowed down as it approached the target I had my eye to the 6″ refractor thinking to myself how wonderful it was to watch the stars whizzing by, when at that very moment we passed over Jupiter, the four moons strung out nicely and even flying by as we were the belts were very prominent, what an amazing fleeting glimpse šŸ™‚
Ā I was drawn to a large area for my sketch as the texture visible was absolutely breath taking, a rough summary of the view/sketch from top to bottom from Sabine & Ritter, to the left of S&R is 18Km Dionysius then we find 3 domes standing proud around Manners, passing over Arago with its slumped and lopsided rim, wrinkle ridges wending down the terminator past devastated Julius Caesar largest crater showing at 91Km with small crater Sosigenes at the right of it’s ruined rim, onto Montes Haemus and crater Menelaus looking out over Mare Serenitatis, note the ray extending right from Menelaus downwards.
31-12-04-06.30 ut-503mm-Sabine, Ritter, J Caesar, M Seren DHolt
Not my best sketches but a record at least of a stunning view on a difficult morning.
Happy New Year, Dale

Another Lunar observation

It is Dec 23rd, Christmas eve, eve, the sky is very hazy but early evening OK for a lunar sketch. I settle on a terminator view of Shickard, Nasmyth and Phocylides the moon is bright and less than 48hrs from full.


Here is my pastel effort, usual set up, 505mm mirror Watec 120N+ video cam, showing on a b&w monitor from which I sketch the image.



An hour later it was pouring with rain, so a lucky observation!



A second night of Lunacy!

Monday Dec 21st in complete contrast to Sunday changed very quickly from a clear sky to a very windy and wet day! This blew itself out by nightfall and again the sky cleared showing a bright moon, this didn’t last long as the sky soon filled with haze which put a large and impressive rainbow halo around the moon, this haze would not hamper my lunar observations. I scanned the terminator using the 505mm mirror and video camera and settled upon Kepler as my target, this wasn’t the usual full moon view which shows the smallish crater surrounded but rays of ejecta, being on the terminator it was far rougher, more textured, numerous smaller craterlets were visible and there were also numerous small mountains in the ejecta field casting small shadows towards the terminator, it was a fascinating view, quite complex to try and capture with my pastels and although I wasn’t disappointed at my sketch timed at 17.35 I can’t claim that it did the beauty of the view justice!

Ray crater Kepler on the terminator

Ray crater Kepler on the terminator

A great night for Lunacy

Sunday 20th Dec 2015 was a record breaking day, record breaking in the sense that the temperature was about 16 deg C or 61 deg F, I had been outdoors in the garden all day long, had eaten lunch outdoors and was working in a T shirt and only a few days from Christmas, simply incredible! The garden was bursting with life, birds singing and bumble bees humming around spring flowers. This experience had me on a high, a fact that was only heightened when as darkness fell the sky was clear and a bright gibbous moon well placed for observation. Shortly after 17.00hrs I had the terminator on my observatory monitors and decided upon sketching Crater Bullialdus and the surrounding area. Since returning to lunar sketching after a period of relative inactivity I seem to be enjoying the experience more than ever and am certainly more relaxed and confident in my work.

Crater Bullialdus, sketched in pastels on black art paper.

Crater Bullialdus, sketched in pastels on black art paper.

Whilst I had been in the observatory the internet had lit up with the news that there was a wide spread aurora display taking place right across the country! After enjoying my Sunday dinner I drove with my youngest son to a high ridge some 5 miles north along the A10 at Reed, from here you have unobstructed views as far as Ely on a clear day. The wind was very keen making your eyes water as I studied the northern horizon, the sky by now was somewhat hazy but there was a distinct red glow to the left (west) of Cambridge city, it looked hat it could be light pollution, but from where I thought as it far exceeded the light arising from Cambridge itself? At this point I had it in my mind that any aurora would be pretty bright due to all the fuss and for some reason I anticipated it to be green in colour. I discussed it with my son who was reluctant to leave the comfort of the car and was happy to dismiss it as light glow in a very uninterested teenage way! I wasn’t so sure but I wasn’t positive on seeing and auroral display either, it wasn’t until later that evening and early the next day that numerous images on the web showed the aurora to me fairly modest and predominantly red, there were a few pictures which looked very similar to the view we had, so in conclusion I’m happy that we caught a hint of a display, not breath taking admittedly but pleasing to have achieved nonetheless.

Back in the observatory I continued to scan the northern horizon for more colour but to no avail, I observed Uranus briefly and then closed up with a plan in my head to rise around 5am on Monday morning and engage with Comet Catalina, unfortunately this didn’t take place as I slept through the 5am alarm call, switching the alarm off in my sleep and not waking to 7am, to find a crystal clear sky, I was far from happy with myself!


Comet Catalina

Wed Dec 9th 2015

Yay this morning I caught up with the wonderful twin tailed Comet C/2010 US10 Catalina at 06.10 UT. Just above and to the left of Venus in Virgo, I got it visually first in the 6″ refractor but tails weren’t obvious. With only a percentage of the 20″ mirror only available due to the low altitude of the comet to the east, I was pleased to geet an image onto the monitor quickly. After lots of camera and monitor adjusting I had an image good enough for my sketch. Unfortunately the field is small at around 13′ x 11′ so tails are cut short but the differences between them are clear. I sketched from the monitor using white pastel on black art paper, as the camera refreshed every 8 seconds I could see the comet moving against the field stars! How magical.

I’m hoping that this sketch is the first of many.

Comet C/2010 US10 Catalina

Comet C/2010 US10 Catalina


Failed on Comet Catalina

Saturday 06.15 am Dec 4th 2015
I Ā got out too late at 06.15 and failed to locate the wonderful twin tailed Catalina in 10×70 Tak binoculars! At that time it wasn’t possible to reach that region of the sky with the observatory scopes šŸ™ The sky was brightening rapidly and dazzling Venus was in the same FOV as the comet which didn’t help.
All was not lost the crescent Moon & Jupiter made a stunning double act, and Venus is worth getting out for alone šŸ˜‰ I did however ‘knock’ out a lunar sketchĀ attached for interest.
Eratosthenes and surrounding features

Eratosthenes and surrounding features

A great sketch from Frank

I wanted to share this very nice sketch and write up from my friend Frank McCabe who resides in the burbs of Chicago USA.

crater Eddington

crater Eddington

Eddington: A Mere Shadow of its Past Self

On this evening of observing and sketching, 137 kilometer, walled-plain crater remnant Eddington was well positioned and illuminated in the morning sunlight for drawing. The features that identify Eddington as a crater-ruin include the missing southern and eastern rims and the vast flooding of its floor with lavas. Eddington is a Pre-Nectarian period crater older than 4 billion years. Today its worn appearance still has character. There is a broken arc of rim remains from south to east which gradually climbs from hills to mountains as the rim arc is traced northward. It may no longer be a regal crater, but it makes an excellent bay to the shore of the Ocean of Storms. To the east-southeast of Eddington rests the much younger Eratosthenian period crater Seleucus (44 km.). This is a deep crater at 3 km. and has a bright meandering debris ray from the crater Oblers A (not seen) passing the crater to the east. The Soviet moon probe Luna 13 landed 75 kilometers southeast of this crater. South along the terminator is the crater Krafft (51 km.) which makes an interesting partner to crater Cardanus beyond the sketching region to the south. Two craters are visible north and east of Eddington. These craters are Briggs (37 km.) and Briggs B (25 km.). Both were showing dazzling rims and ramparts in the early sunlight. The lone crater visible across the sketch to the northeast is Imbrian period crater Schiaparelli at 24 kilometers in diameter.Ā  This is my second visit here to sketch in the past seven years.


For this sketch I used: black Strathmore 400 Artagain paper, white and black Conteā€™

pastel pencils and a blending stump.


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

Date: 11-25-2015, 02:00-03:00 UT

Temperature: +2Ā° C (36Ā° F)

Clear, transparent, calm

Seeing:Ā  Antoniadi III

ColongitudeĀ Ā  73.3 Ā°

LunationĀ Ā  13.1 days

IlluminationĀ  98.3 %


Frank McCabe

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