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A Child's Life and the Trifid's Gleam

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#1 rolandlinda3

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 10:31 PM

Sketch Link: M20, the Trifid Nebula

The Lesson.
About 2000 years ago Jairus and his wife, filled with a mixture of intense emotions, ushered Jesus Christ to the bedside of their daughter, who lay lifeless. Her dying process had precipitated a rush to find Jesus in time, so He could come and heal her. The circumstances, however, were beyond their control. Their daughter died about the time Jairus reached Jesus. Later, when Jesus arrived at family’s home, he forbade anyone to go into the house except for the parents and three disciples. Jesus took the little girl’s lifeless hand and uttered an incredible phrase that was accompanied with power that only comes from God: “My child, get up.” Her spirit returned, warmth instantly returned to her body, color returned to her face, and the gleam in her eyes that death had captured was restored. It would have been a sight to behold the eyes of this child as her gaze danced around the room at her mother, father and a few strangers. Jesus, the creator of the universe (and the Trifid Nebula), had raised her from the dead. (Bible references: Luke 8:40-56, Hebrews 1:2)

My observation of the color of the Trifid for this observing period reminded me of the event with Jairus’s daughter. I first used averted vision on July 18 to see the faint outlines of tri-furcated nebula through a good eyepiece mounted in a 12.5 inch Dobsonian telescope. While beautiful, the Trifid seemed lifeless—a ghostly white and grey with faint dark lanes. After replacing the eyepiece with the color astro-video camera, I gently punched its controls to begin a repeating-seven-second integration process. By the time I moved to the front of a high resolution color monitor, the Trifid had exploded into color. Its gleaming features were repeatedly posted to the screen time after time after time while I studied and sketched. Compared to the respectable eye piece view, the gleam of the object with color is shocking—like death brought to life in Jairus’s daughter.

It was a good night to give thanks.

Technical Sketch Notes.
The star field is so rich around M20 that I made no attempt to go beyond placing anchor stars, stars that helped locate the nebulosity, and a few others to balance the star field on the sketch paper. Overall procedures in rough order were as follows: choose and pre-arrange pastels most likely to be used—based on a 5 minute screen examination of the object (chosen colors included 3 reds/pinks, 4 blues/purples, 2 yellows/creams, 1 light orange, and 1 each of white, grey, and black); set anchor stars and selected star groups with white pencil; outline and lightly fill white for prominent nebulosity regions or boundaries; fill dominant color regions; add stars to help refine object color/dark lane boundaries; add/refine colors, rough blending, add more colors for intense areas; blend some more; define and charcoal the dark lanes; refine the color areas again; and repeat some refinement processes until complete. Actual sketch time was a little over an hour; finishing time the next day for the remainder of the sketch sheet took 40 minutes. Scanning was straightforward; no adjustments or modifications to the scene were introduced. Sheet size/type at the start was black Strathmore Artagain 9x12 inch; finish size was 8.5x11 inch.

Observing Equipment Notes.
Setup time is about 20 minutes (it is a practiced procedure) and was done around sunset. It takes another 15 minutes to checkout equipment, including setting the position of the equatorial platform once Polaris can be seen. Cool down period (no action required) was about 2 hours. Star hopping and briefly observing the object as well as the surrounding region started just before 11 pm local on July 18, 2009. Camera and sketch area setup took about 10 minutes at the beginning of this period. The observing/sketching period lasted until a little after midnight. It was only suspended for occasional breaks (15 minutes) and a kiss for my wife, who came out to enjoy the scene briefly before retiring.

The equatorial platform for the telescope had to be reset once (a five-minute process). The MallinCAM Hyper Color video-astro camera was set at 7 seconds integration with 40% gain—more than sufficient to capture the object’s shape and colors. The camera’s color was adjusted slightly to reduce its “red” emphasis (red set down one notch and blue set up one notch). The HDTV 19 inch TV/monitor color intensity and balance were set at centered positions; brightness was reduced to 1/3 scale for this particular unit. A picture shows the equipment set up at our observing location (our backyard in Crozet, VA, USA). Magnification represented on the screen was about 115X; the object took up 2/3 of the screen. I sat about 3 feet from the screen during the study/sketch period.

Sky conditions were above average for summer observing. The Milky Way had a nice appearance (not pristine, but very nice). Stars were “twinkling” within 25 degrees of horizon. Temperature (60 deg F), low humidity, and light breeze made for pleasant surface conditions. The Trifid (M20) is nearly at its highest point above horizon for our latitude at this time of year.

#2 rolandlinda3

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 10:33 PM

Our standard layout for sketching using astro video that is mounted on the 12.5 inch Dobsonian and EQ platform.

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#3 frank5817

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 06:46 AM

Roland,

A very impressive sketch of M-20. Both the emission and reflection nebula parts look great. Also thanks for adding the image of your set up- very neat and concise.
:bow: :cool: :rainbow:
Frank :)

#4 kraterkid

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 10:55 AM

A stunningly beautiful sketch filled with colorful intensity! :rainbow: :bow: :rainbow:

#5 rolandlinda3

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 07:23 PM

Thanks Frank and Rich. It certainly was a pleasure to capture it, especially after so many nights of poor skies.

#6 CarlosEH

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 07:59 PM

Roland,

A beautiful observation of the Trifid Nebula (M20) and bible passage to accompany it. The heavens are a testament to the glory of God.

Carlos

#7 Shannon s

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 05:21 PM

Great stuff, always inspirational as well as colorful. :jump:

#8 rolandlinda3

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 07:54 PM

Well said, Carlos, and thankyou Shannon. Have not had another night as good since I grabbed this gem, so I am glad I pushed the sleep envelope to get it.

#9 FJA

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 04:32 PM

That is an awesome sketch! Wow! Who needs CCDs??! :bow:

#10 Dee

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 03:30 AM

Your sketches are poetry

Dee

#11 rolandlinda3

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 08:15 AM

Thank you, Dee and Cygnus. I still remember the night. It was one of those special ones.






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