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PanSTARRS and Wright's Tower

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#1 David Gray

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 11:02 AM

At last it has appeared in my skies. The colour put me in mind of Bennet’s Comet (C/1969Y1) in 1970 March; when my artistically skilled and knowledgeable mother called it “Smoky Candle Flame Yellow” as seen in the 12x65 binos.

Back in the early 90s I came to realize that the tower (Westerton Folly) http://en.wikipedia....ht_(astronomer) built by Thomas Wright of Durham some three miles west of here was practically on the same latitude as my observatory. Recently checking on Google Earth I found the difference to be only about 0.5”! Landfill work and tree growth obscure it from here now.

I had often thought that it would be good to record (draw/photo) some celestial sight as a backdrop to the tower. My most recent hopes being the two (2010&11) December lunar eclipses, but no-go with the weather sadly. After picking up the comet on the 14th I realized that it would be practically pointing at Wright’s tower but cloud was looming. The next night was mostly cloudy, but a clear strip in the west persisted; so off I went to a vantage point, c.half a mile from the tower, where I had taken photos, initially on film, (inc. many silhouettes) over the years. Even from the vantage point tree growth and lamp-posts (!) spoil the view somewhat now; so decided to just do the pastel and use one of the earliest of my photos (took some searching to find) and digitally extract the silhouette minus any posts. Cobbled together in Corel Photopaint: a bit of a cheat in that respect, but weather prospects hold no immediate hope for a more honest one.

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#2 PeterDob

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 12:10 PM

Ooooo... How lovely! I see you've used more or less the same technique as I? :watching: But your result is absolutely stunning! It looks like a real painting indeed...

Peter

#3 mikesemmler

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 01:16 PM

sensational :bow:

#4 Jef De Wit

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 01:30 PM

If you don't know the story behind this beautiful sketch, you think the comet is enormous :grin:

#5 David Gray

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 01:56 PM

Thanks all for the kind remarks - I do not feel so guilty now about the 'cheating' aspect! Still at my age I can't keep waiting for those infrequent events happening the right place and time.

Yes I think we are employing similar technique Peter: we have the technology so why not! Some may disapprove but as my grandfather often warned of the three 'Ps': "purists, pedantics, and perfectionists are seldom happy"!

Yes it was concerning that the comet looks greatly exaggerated: the field circle and general view are down to the 12x65s (4.5 deg. field) and the comet mainly the 20x100s (3 deg. field)

#6 azure1961p

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 06:13 PM

What a beautiful piece . You are an artist in the finest sense. I saved it as wallpaper on my iPhone!

Your very honest account of its coming into being was appreciated .

Pete

#7 frank5817

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 12:09 AM

David,

Wow, it looks like one of those great drawings from the 19th century - only more colorful.

Frank :)

#8 niteskystargazer

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 12:49 PM

David,

Very good sketch of Comet PanSTARRS & Wright's Tower :).

CS,KLU,

:thanx:,

Tom

#9 azure1961p

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 08:12 PM

David,
What kind of paper was used if u dont mind me asking?

Pete

#10 Aquarellia

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 01:20 AM

So nice, I like your sketch a lot. Yesterday in my scope with 55x, just one minute before the comet set ,I made a similar quick sketch, the size of the comet looks enormous in comparison with the trees. The sky was perfect. I will try this kind of double sketch compilation technique today with watercolor, thanks to you !

#11 Heidescoper

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 01:26 AM

hi all,

David:
I made a sketch at the same evening !

15.3.2013, 18:20 UT

10" Dobson f/6, 68x

Are the three streamer/jets I saw real ?

Bye Chrisian

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#12 Heidescoper

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 01:29 AM

here inverted

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#13 David Gray

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 05:59 AM

Thanks again for all your kind comments.

Pete not sure if it helps - but this is on some ‘cheap and nasty’ paper (brand unknown & strange texture) we keep on hand for visiting grandkids. I do have a pile of black cartridge somewhere but in the necessary haste to get to the vantage point I grabbed some of the kid’s paper that was of a deep blue/near indigo similar to the evening sky. It looks surprisingly good in the ‘scan’ (digital photo) but I can say it was very intolerant of over-stumping: close inspection will reveal this! In fact I used teased-out cotton buds a lot and got away with it.

Chrisian I reckon the undoubtedly superior view in your 10” (nice sketch) pretty much confirms my lo-res impressions with the 20x100s of the streamer/jet effect. Wish I could get my 415mm Dall-Kirkham on it – house in the way!

Further info re. the scene: I find that the comet was at some 6-7 deg. altitude but looks less: although far from being on even a very small mountain Westerton village is one of the highest points in County Durham. The true horizon I estimate would have been roughly a 12x65 field’s-size below the drawing field-circle. Google Earth gives the tower at 199 meters and my observatory 170m - which is conveniently much higher than the landscape to the s’east, south & s'west and is on the same ridge as Wright’s Tower, which extends some 3 miles further to Ferryhill in the east.

Sky/clouds: in the main this was a generalised impression but did give particular attention the slanted bit of reddish cloud which like Pan-STARRS pointed in the general direction of the tower. This cloud seemed to have suggestion of crepuscular-ray associated shadow and perhaps also across its right-end?

#14 niteskystargazer

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 02:40 PM

Chrisian,

Very good sketches of Comet PanSTARRS :).

CS,KLU,

:thanx:,

Tom

#15 ericj

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 04:02 PM

Hi David,

Welcome to CN. I look forward to your contributions.

Nicely done. I like your technique. No luck for me with the comet on this side of the Pond ;-).

Best,

Eric Jamison

#16 chrisrnuttall

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 04:21 PM

David

your sketch is very atmospheric and a great record of the appearance of the comet, and it does agree well with Christians drawing too.
I am flat out with work this week and the weather is rubbish too, but I have a very good western horizon and if I get the chance my 12" orion will certainly be pointed towards Panstarrs.

I am glad you have posted here on Cloudynights, I have long been a fan of your planetary drawings on ALPO japan, often wishing I could leave a comment about them. Can we look forward to seeing some more of your work here in the future?

#17 David Gray

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 04:28 AM

Chris/Eric:

My thanks for your kind comments which are heartily reciprocated!

Yes I hope to post more work in coming months; but may ‘disappear’ from time to time. Especially if the weather allows me to get back to
some observatory & domestic tasks that were left unfinished due to last year’s dismal summer!

In the meantime I have posted a 2007 Saturn/Iapetus transit drawing on Planetary and Solar System Observing “Saturn’s Moons” thread if of interest.

Also I will take the opportunity to correct some info. re. Wright’s Tower: its actual distance is 1.2 miles west not the three I stated – this was a km distance I failed to convert from a bad guesstimate looking at Google Earth. 1.2 is more consistent with the fact we could then see the top half from our bedroom window when Denise & myself moved here (as newly-weds) in 1976. The wrong vantage/viewpoint was given also: the one for the comet is actually 0.3 miles east of the tower.






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