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Naive Question About Sketching and Scope Type

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#1 Waduino


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Posted 29 October 2009 - 04:34 PM

When the clouds clear I'd like to try my hand at sketching some simple open clusters or doubles, etc. mostly to help improve my observing. I have an 85mm refractor and a MiniTower to track so I'm all set. My question is... if I get another scope with more aperture, the obvious choices would be a small Newtonian (6") on the MiniTower, or a larger Newtonian (8") on an EQ, or larger still on a Dob mount. So... what is it like to sketch from the top end of a tube? It sounds awkward as heck to me. I think I'd rather be down on the ground where things don't move as much. And I'm pretty much assuming that tracking is a prerequisite.
Thanks for any insight.

#2 perfessor


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Posted 29 October 2009 - 06:27 PM

Well - I think you get used to what you have! I use an 8" dob, no tracking. So I have to re-acquire my target after each trip to the sketch pad. I sit comfortably in a denver-style chair, scope on one side, table on the other. I'm usually sketching lunar or planetary, in other words bright objects that are easy to find. No doubt, tracking would make it easier. But nothing is impossible.

#3 Jeremy Perez

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 06:51 PM

Hi Wad,

If you get a moderate sized Dob, like a 6 or 8 inch scope, your eyepiece is still going to be at a manageable seated height. If you go with an EQ mount, you'll either be standing, or you'll need to get an observing chair that can ratchet up higher--such as the Denver observing chair that Tom mentioned. Being seated is the way to go, but I've done a lot of sketching while standing too. Standing can get wearisome after a while and makes it harder to get comfy for maximum concentration...but it isn't necessarily a show-stopper either.

For the last couple years, I've sketched with an 8 inch Dob, and have gotten used to nudging, and have found it to only be a minor inconvenience for most targets. It can help to sketch notable stars near the edges of the field of view, and then each time you nudge, you can re-center based on those stars and continue your sketch. Once the basic star framework is in place, you don't have to worry about how closely you recenter each nudge.

When it comes to observing/sketching very faint objects at high power, nudging a Dob can be a pretty frustrating handicap. I was working on a 240X sketch of Stephan's Quintet last weekend, and was complaining to myself the whole time. Every time one of the faint puffs would start to take shape, I'd have to nudge and then lose the visual groove I had going. (I've got a tracking platform on my very-near-future wish list.) On the other hand at lower powers, the repeated nudging can help you notice really faint objects, while the slower drift gives you longer to concentrate on it before the next nudge.

#4 Hrundi



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Posted 29 October 2009 - 11:51 PM

In my experience, it's easier to sketch from a top mounted eyepiece than from one on the bottom. I just do notebook sketches to determine what I've seen though. There might be different requirements for 'real' sketching.

#5 JanisR


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Posted 30 October 2009 - 08:39 AM

Actually, you're doing the 'real' sketching! The goal is to interpret and record what you've observed.

The pretty images we sometimes make are the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.

#6 JayKSC



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Posted 30 October 2009 - 08:45 AM

Hi Wad.,

I've used reflectors and refractors for sketching and have never used one with an active motor drive. I sketch in increments - sketching for a few moments, then take a break to recenter the object and observe the details. It's a much slower process than might be afforded from a motorized drive, but I find that it lets me relax and enjoy the view more.

Try out your different scopes and see which you like working with best when sketching! As I saw commented elsewhere here, too, sketching while sitting is more comfortable to me and lets me rest my pad on my lap for easier drawing.

- Jay
South Florida

#7 DC869


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Posted 30 October 2009 - 05:19 PM

I've sketched targets viewed with my 8"dob (manual only)and have also sketched several targets using only handheld binoculars... definitely not the best approach, but the result was still a rewarding record of the observation for me personally. My sketching style is similar to what JayKSC described... observe, sketch, re-center, repeat. It is time consuming, but part of the enjoyment. Overall, I've found that my level of desire to sketch the target has outweighed the limitations of my set-up.

#8 Uwe Pilz

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Posted 31 October 2009 - 12:39 PM

I sketch with my motorized 6 inch Mak an with my 12 inch dob as well. The sitting position does not count for me, I did not even think about that. But the motorization helps a lot. And the flat field of the Mak too.

#9 FJA


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Posted 31 October 2009 - 03:46 PM

I use a 12 inch Dob with no tracking and I stand to observe, not having a suitable chair for use with the Dob. However, I find it MUCH easier than trying to use my refractor, despite standing, where I often find myself craning my neck at uncomfortable angles, even when seated.

#10 Jeff Young

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 06:26 AM

I've done a few sketches standing up, but my inner ears aren't the best and I tend to slightly lose my balance at each eyepiece/sketch transition. So I do very much prefer to be seated.

I also like to keep at least a pencil, blending stump and kneadable eraser in my lap, so a foot rest or something to keep my lap level would be my second priority. A nearby table, stand, etc. can work well as a substitute during the day, but it makes it much harder to find my tools by feel at night.

Tracking is nice, but I'd probably put that farther down the list. I say "probably" because my only experience nudge-sketching is with my 18x70 binoculars and SolarMax40 -- both of which are fairly low magnification instruments.

My neck-angle priority is currently in flux: I used to sketch quite happily with my straight-through 18x70s, but of late I'm finding it increasingly uncomfortable. I'll be looking for a 45° or 90° replacement in the not-too-distant future. (I shouldn't say "replacement" because I'd still rather have straight-throughs when lying down in a deckchair -- but I can't sketch from that position.)

-- Jeff.

#11 Michael11


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Posted 03 November 2009 - 12:40 PM

I use equatorial 8" newtonian.
Usually I find myself sketching while standing, since eyepiece is almost always positioned high from the ground. However I doubt that sketching an object positioned in zenith would be easier with a refractor.
And tracking is a must for me, since sometimes sketching a particuallry difficult object can take an hour or so.

#12 JayinUT


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Posted 03 November 2009 - 02:02 PM


I have a Flip Camera that would allow me to record a video of myself sketching an open cluster next time I get out when the moon is not so bright. If you'd like I can record that, and then send the file to you so you can see what it is like. The others who have posted before me are outstanding sketchers (far superior to me) and their input is right on, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Let me know if you want me to do that.

#13 nunciusaustralis


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Posted 03 November 2009 - 03:46 PM

I believe that everyone will develop his own technic. I generally try to sketch the main object on the field.( Seated by the side of scope.) And then look for other detail on the field ( Back ground stars , etc..) Once have it done i take a long look of the whole stuff and then went for final touches and add details that maybe ill have to improve on rendering.I do all the sketchin seated and dont feel the need of a perfect tracking. Specialy because if i want to have a body count i dont sketch, just observe.Sketch demands patience and time so i feel no need for tracking , i can do all the centering stuff over and over. I´m sketchin for a very short period now so i believe that other tips will be usefull to me too.
Good skies and sketches . :band:

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