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
Posted 28 October 2014 - 09:51 PM
Decided not to start a new thread for the 2014-2015 season. This one'll do.
It begins now.
- Asbytec likes this
Posted 22 November 2014 - 03:19 AM
"It begins now"
Yeah, right, if the sky cooperates. Lol.
The early evening / night skies were fantastic here while I was at work! Orion blazed, Jove was rising! By the time I arrived home around 1 AM (6 UT) ... clouds. Sigh. I hope this season is not a repeat of the last ... 2 or 3 clear nights out of 30. We'll see.
Anyway, I did have a descent session on the morning of the 19th. It was cold (12 F), but the sky was crystal clear. My primary objective was to test some cold weather gear that I purchased over the summer, i.e., a pair of insulated, bib-overalls. They worked quite well in the sub-freezing temps. By the time my 1 hour session was finished, the only part(s) of my body that were uncomfortably cold was the tip of my nose and the tips of my fingers (due to constantly removing my gloves for sketching purposes).
Initially, I tried to split Psi Ori to no avail, before slewing down to revisit Mintaka. Looked BEAUTIFUL, esp. with all of the mods I've made to the rig over the past few months.
Finally, I settled on M42.
Sketch Notes: Star placement is sort of ambiguous. I wanted to get that "out of the way" and focus on the nebula. The Neb itself was vague, but I could definitely detect its pale, green color as well as its basic form. I've attempted to present it as seen, so you may have to move your head around as you view it on your monitor to see subtle nuances.
Needs / Wants:
After 3 seasons of using stackable deck chairs as my primary observing platform, I've finally figured out that I need a workable solution as to where to plant my hindside while peering through the EP. I waste a lot of time moving stuff around (stacking, un-stacking, kneeling, standing, adjusting, bending, twisting, etc.) -- time that I should be spending at the EP. By January, my hope is to either build or purchase an adjustable chair for this purpose. Since money is tight and times are hard, I'll probably wind up building "something".
At any rate, here is M42.
Thanks for looking!
Posted 11 December 2014 - 02:36 AM
Not much observing going on here in SW Ohio due to near constant cloud cover. I did manage a peek at Jove last week for about 15 minutes; however, just as my eyes began to adjust, the sky closed up on me. Too bad, because the GRS was just starting its transit. Although I could not make out GRS, I could detect the turbulence ahead of it. I think if I had had another few minutes I would have detected it.
The northern hemisphere appeared in varying shades of gray. The NTB came in fairly clear. I spotted a couple of festoon bases along the southern edge of the NEB. There were a couple of dark spots on the north edge of the SEB, but I'm uncertain as to what they were. The southern hemisphere appeared to be gold / yellowish in color. Could not make out any detail in this area.
I also took a quick gander at Ganymede and Io to see if I could detect color or surface features. No such luck. They appeared star-like, white discs with no detail. They might be out of range of my 90mm. I'll keep trying though.
Thanks for looking!
Edited by stray1, 11 December 2014 - 02:36 AM.
Posted 11 December 2014 - 06:28 AM
Mark, you are coming along nicely on Jupiter. This is a motivating observation for me. It's been a while since I've seen your work, but this one might be one of your best. You caught a lot of detail. Nicely done. I am still hoping the festoons will show themselves to you. I dunno, they might be tough, but I suspect they might have enough contrast in your 90mm achro. I'd love it if they could show through.
Posted 12 December 2014 - 02:35 AM
Tom, thanks for commenting!
Norme, on really good nights I have no problems making out the "shark-tooth" forms of the festoons. What has me curious are those two dark spots on the north edge of the SEB. I'm not sure what they are and cannot recall ever seeing anything in this area during past observations. I went back and reviewed a number of my old sketches and found nothing, so this is something new.
Over the summer, I took my tube apart and gave the ID surface areas a good coat of flat black spray primer. I also added Teflon shims to the focus tube guide rails to eliminate any "rattling" or droop in the focuser. This really helped in reducing the aberration(s) that I was experiencing last season. Focus is much more clear and crisp. Hopefully those dark spots are a result of my modifications and not just arbitrary visuals that don't repeat.
I've also done some work to the EQ mount, adding weight and such to allow for more stable observing. Additionally, I have begun construction of a DIY observing chair.
The 90mm is pretty much ready for duty if only the skies cooperate...
Posted 12 December 2014 - 08:32 PM
Ah, that's right. I remember you discussing your mods earlier this year. Okay, gotta run for now...look forward to more in the coming weeks, Mark.
Posted 13 December 2014 - 01:43 PM
Just jumping in here on the last page. Your details on Jupiter are so nicely done. I like the 2 view comparison you have set up and the information on your page. What a great way to record planetary information showing where the visible moons are located as well as the details of the planet.
Ii just noticed this is one of Erika Rix's templates. I have to get this one!
Edited by Warmvet, 13 December 2014 - 01:46 PM.
Posted 15 December 2014 - 12:49 AM
Hello Cindy and Norme,
Yeah, Norme, I've done some tinkering around with the rig in general. Much improved! (still kind of "rookieish" but better...I'm learning more each season). Still waiting for these clouds to break so I can grab more than a few minutes at the EP. Honestly, I do not care how cold it gets out there, I have extreme cold weather gear ready to go...just give me an hour or two of good seeing and transparency!
Cindy, you can find Erica Rix's templates here: http://pcwobservator...ervation-forms/ I used the first one as inspiration and modified it to suit my needs.
Thanks for looking / commenting.
Posted 16 December 2014 - 01:20 AM
Whew. Finally have a working model to tinker with...the chair that is. I've been working on this off and on for a couple of weeks. Total time spent is around 5 hours. Now that I have one complete (almost) I think I can probably make a second one in 2 hours or less.
Made from a single length of 2x4 lumber cut into two 36" lengths to serve as legs. These are held together with a door hinge. I cut the remaining scrap lumber into 2' and 1' sections as horizontal stabilizers bolted to the legs.
The seat is two Grand Gourmet 1/4" cutting boards, glued together, then drilled and carriage bolted. It works quite well using gravity / friction to hold it in place. In the photo it looks sort of crooked because it is. Nothing a little "fine adjust" with a hungry file won't fix. I estimate seat adjustment to be between 12" to 30" (and all points in between), a vast improvement over the stackable deck chairs, beach chair, and step ladder I've been using. Easier too.
All that is left to do is to add some textured safety tape to the inside and outside of the forward leg and a length of chain between the legs to keep the rear one from sliding out from under me (it already has; however, thanks to my cat-like instincts, I landed on my feet ).
This project cost me around $20 and is based on Denver Observers Seat blueprints found here: http://www.tulsawalk...astro/seat.html.
Mine is not as intricate (or pretty), but it'll do.
Can't wait to get it out under clear, dark sky.
Posted 16 December 2014 - 04:49 AM
That's actually kind of sweet, Mark. What keeps the legs from spreading all the way out. Friction?
Posted 18 December 2014 - 02:09 AM
That's actually kind of sweet, Mark. What keeps the legs from spreading all the way out. Friction?
Actually, Norme, there is currently nothing that keeps the legs from collapsing. While I'm sure that I can trust this thing on uneven ground (e.g., lawn), on even surfaces--such as my driveway where it will serve its primary duty--NO! Imagine trying to set this up on asphalt coated with a thin layer of ice...
My plan is to either run a length of chain, or steel cable, between the legs to avert cat-like responses.
This. Is. Going. To. Work.