stray's 2013-2014 sketchbook
Posted 19 January 2014 - 04:58 PM
Posted 19 January 2014 - 09:19 PM
That's a good observation and sketch. Nice catch on Europa's shadow.
Jason did a good job adjusting your orientation. It gets easier with practice. With Jupiter you have the additional advantage of being able to easily identify north because the NEB looks so different from the SEB. Then just remember that west (preceding) is counter clockwise from north when looking through a refractor with a diagonal.
Posted 22 January 2014 - 02:32 AM
This past Sunday evening offered up some clear sky while I was at work and unable to do anything. By the time I arrived home early Monday morning, it was overcast. No biggie, that is just the way it has been working out here lately Anyway, I retreated to what what my wife calls my "mancave" (not really, just a paneled room in my basement where I keep my desk, computer, and a bunch of junk) and dorked around online listening to music on Live365. At bedtime--0430 AM (0930 UT)--I shambled upstairs to retire for the night, pausing only to poke my head out the kitchen door to discover...a bright orange dot hovering just above the tree line! Apparently (and obviously) the sky had cleared up a bit while I was dorking around.
Scrambling, yes scrambling, to the garage I set my rig up to take a peek at Mars. Transparency and seeing were not all that hateful. My biggest problem was with frigid, sporadic winds (I've learned that when my wife's wind chimes are tinkling, is not a good time to observe). But, what the heck. I was just taking a peek to see what I could see. Double heck, forgot my gloves...fingers got real cold real quick.
Observation notes: Mars initially appeared as a tiny, tiny disc about the size of a BB held at arm's length. It took several minutes before I could determine that part of the disk lay in shadow. The NPR appeared as a blob of white, never really in sharp focus, but there none-the-less. I think I also detected a similar, though smaller, detail in the SPR area though this could have easily been an optical aberration. Near what I determined to be the EQ region there appeared to a "smudge" of darker color, but this was an on and off thing. Perhaps I detected it, perhaps not (my wind-driven, "shaky" view prohibits me from saying this was a definite detection). If I did actually see something in this region, using Stellarium and a map of Mars from Sky & Telescope as references, this ambiguous smudge might have been the Terra Meridiani or the Syrtis Major region(s). Or it could have been nothing at all except for my sometimes overactive imagination. Or, maybe, wishful thinking.
Sketch notes: I have sharpened everything in the sketch basically because I was unable to "paint" blobs of swimming color in a way that was pleasing to the eye, thus the sketch is my impression of what I was seeing and does not actually represent what a causal observer might see when looking into the EP. This was a very brief observation, followed by a much longer period of time at the computer trying to sort things out. Also note that Mars is presented here as much larger than it actually appeared in the EP. That was done for the sake of clarity when viewing on a computer monitor.
As always, thanks for looking. Your comments and critiques are most welcome.
Posted 22 January 2014 - 12:10 PM
As for the observation, very well done I say! You nailed the NPC, the terminator and that dark spot. What exactly that spot refers to is difficult to say. There are a few smaller regions of dark on the globe at the time of your observation. But you should be able to see something there, even if for fleeting moments. I don't think it's Syrtis Major, although I could be persuaded otherwise, given that I am also new to Mars. My best guess is that it's a visual combination of two regions that are acting like tightly grouped pixels and appearing as one spot. Perhaps some conglomeration of Elysium, Trivium Charontis and the northern extent of Mare Cimmerium. Just a guess, though. If the seeing wasn't quite good enough it probably would have been to challenging to split these regions up with such a small apparent diameter.
I do think you have a great illustration of how it appears it the eyepiece, despite your disclaimer regarding artistic liberty. Honestly, I think we are all guilty of such treatments, otherwise it would be difficult to show our ideas in the digital domain.
Keep 'em coming when you can. You're inspiring me to try for an observation tomorrow morning (cold be cursed!!!).
Posted 22 January 2014 - 05:51 PM
Maybe a little crazy, but not that crazy. Last night for example I had crystal clear sky, so clear that I could just make out the Orion Nebula with unaided vision, but it was bitter cold at 6 deg F. Painfully cold. Ain't goin' out there. Plus, I neglected to shovel about 2-3" of snow off the driveway earlier in the day... :o
I've gone back and reviewed my observation hoping to determine what that "smudge" was/is (if I detected it at all, that is). I set Stellarium to the proper time and date and used its view of Mars as my primary reference. I am of the opinion that even if Stellarium is not 100% accurate with Jove (how could it be with such a dynamic object?), it is probably quite accurate with static features such as those on Mars. I also used a different map found in The Illustrated Atlas of the Universe (IAU, 2012). I tried to find a photo in the Mars section of ALPO but unfortunately no one had posted anything for the 20th.
I agree that if this smudge was a legitimate detection it was not of one feature but an aggregate of several features spread out over a fairly large area. Referencing IAU, the best that I can determine is that these possible features are: Lunae Planum/Xanthe Terra to the N; Bosporos Planum/Aonia Terra to the S; Ophir Planum to the E; and Syria or Daedalia Planum(s) to the W.
All things considered, even with my less than optimal viewing conditions, these features cover such a wide area that it is possible that I detected them--if only as a pixel or two.
Based upon observation reports on this forum (from you, Norme, others) and the trials and tribulations of viewing what are sometimes ambiguous "things up in the sky", I am beginning to trust my eye and my discretion. Although I usually err toward the side of "doubt it", you folks have taught me that if I "think" that I am detecting/seeing something, I probably am. With that in mind (and if there are no objections), I'd like to place this smudge detection in the YES file.
PS--Jason, I inspire you to observe no more than you inspire me! Let's hope that this frigid stuff cuts us some slack and offers up some primo opportunity.
Garlick, M. A., & Tirion, W. (2012). The illustrated atlas of the universe. New York: Metro Books.
Posted 22 January 2014 - 09:14 PM
Your rendition has that certain glow, that certain windy condition feel to it. It's pretty much what I would expect to observe and how one might expect to observe it...if that makes sense. So, in sum, it's a great sketch and a great observation of a small red planet at relatively low power in windy and chilly conditions. In other words, spot on. You did well, good on you.
Posted 29 January 2014 - 02:51 AM
Jason, I take it all back...I am that crazy (and stupid too!). This morning it is in the minus category temperature-wise (-6 to be exact) and where do you figure I was? Yup, out on the driveway, trying to balance on a thin sheet of ice, and freezing my fingers and toes off. My wife concurs with your assessment concerning my sanity; any experienced observer will validate my stupidity. Every piece of equipment that I store in the garage was darned near locked up tight. Heck, I could barely get the focus knob on my binos to turn and I won't even mention the glass on my EPs fogging up due the heat from my watering eyes.
At any rate, the sky was simply too clear and brilliant for me to pass up a rare opportunity so I bundled up and ventured out into the polar vortex. I have read so much about the super nova in M82 that my objective was to do a simple preliminary scouting out with the 10x50s and take a quick peek with one of my 60mm scopes. This turned out to be a bust all the way around. Realizing the futility of such an effort (considering the conditions), I opted for an easier target. Orion was blazing over my left shoulder, so I slewed over in that direction. I debated over what to focus on: Mintaka or M42? Since I had already sketched Mintaka last season, and since I had never really tried M42, I decided on the latter. Time was running short as I could feel the heat being sucked from my finger tips through the rather thin knit gloves that I was wearing every time I touched something...
Observation notes: through a 60mm scope using a 25mm EP M42 appeared as a vague, greenish blob surrounding the trapezium area. My eyes were watering up due to the cold so good focus was hard to achieve, still I was able to just make out a few of the individual stars within the nebula. This was not the best view I have had of M42, but still it was acceptable considering the foolishness of my venture.
Sketch notes: experienced observers will note that the sketch is hardly accurate in terms of star placement. I've stretched things out in certain areas and compressed them in others in order to include the most pertinent of stars in the cluster. The nebula itself was apparent but it was nowhere as clear and defined as I have sketched it (its greenish tinge is exaggerated for viewing purposes). I have arbitrarily represented its form and shape. Additionally, there were quite a number of stars up there that I did not include in the sketch (many of them were AV). In less hostile conditions, I would have taken the time to include them, but the cold was taking its toll on me.
Thanks for looking. I might make a more detailed sketch with the 90mm once it warms up to a temperature that is more survivable (like 12 F, or something like that).
Edit: same sketch v2: added glow around the neb
Posted 12 February 2014 - 09:10 PM
Seeing as how my heroes on this forum, i.e., Asbytec & Chopin, have tried their hands at lunar sketching (to me "where angels fear to tread") I've been thinking of doing the same.
Since I work in digital medium, my biggest concern is getting the lunar surface to look like the lunar surface--not the actual features: the craters, mountains, rilles and so forth--but the actual surface of the moon between those features.
This evening I "think" that I was able to come up with a workable template to represent these areas. What I am thinking is that I can use this as a basic "backdrop" to do my sketches on; adjusting brightness, contrast, etc. as per observing conditions and then blending my features into the template as I sketch them.
Posted 12 February 2014 - 10:19 PM
As for the lunar backdrop, I like it. I just did something similar with solar granulation for my future sunspot sketches. I've recently used a solar granulation photo as a backdrop layer in a sketch. I liked the result, but was unhappy that it wasn't created by me. So yeah, your idea is a great one. It's all about representing what we see as best as we can.
Looking forward to some craters and rilles.
Posted 15 February 2014 - 02:25 AM
Thank you for your comments on my M42 sketch!
Here is an experimental sketch using the new lunar surface template. I started out using a photo from Google images, then kinda went off on a freehand tangent. This is entirely digital, "painted" in Gimp using a Bamboo pad and stylus, then loaded to Paint.net to adjust brightness and contrast, plus some "noise" texture effects to simulate Luna's grainy surface. It did not come out all that hateful...
Posted 15 February 2014 - 02:32 AM
Have at it, Mark, I like what I see. I am sure others will, as well. I am trying to dirty up my own sketches as they seem too clean and smooth. Maybe a template such as your might work.
Posted 15 February 2014 - 02:42 AM
Yes, you are correct about EP viewing vs photo. It is the former that makes me hesitant--trying to get all of the detail correct while constantly adjusting for drift.
If you'd like, feel free to copy the template for use in your sketches. I'm working on a second "oblique" template for edge-on views, but getting the horizon correct is a study in frustration.
Posted 15 February 2014 - 12:31 PM