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Gave sketching another go again....

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#1 Michael Rapp

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 11:41 AM

I was flipping through my logbooks a few nights ago, and was dismayed at how similar my written descriptions of objects are. Even the ones in which I gave detailed descriptions, I just couldn't remember what the object looked like.

I've tried sketching in the past, but I've always abandoned it for three reasons:
1) Open clusters overwhelm me.
2) My objects never quite look like what I see (and all my globulars look the same).
3) When I sketch, I only log a fraction of the objects I do when I'm just doing written descriptions.

So, I've tried to give it a go again....but adjusting my approach.

Last night I sketched two open clusters, NGC 2362 (it looks like a Christmas tree!) in Canis Major and M35 in Gemini. I sketched the entirety of 2362 as it was only 15-25 stars, but M35 was composed of innumerable stars! I nearly put down my pencils and went back to written logging when I noticed an interesting curved "V" shape in the cluster. I decided to sketch this part as my sketch.

So, focusing on this interesting part kept the sketch manageable, and while I wished I had the patience to sketch the entire cluster (especially with a non-tracking Dob), I at least recorded the feature that was distinct in this cluster.

I'm also not recording every single field star that I see...but the main ones. This flows into my second approach. While, I'm going to make an effort to sketch the object as it appears, my primary goal is to be accurate as to its position in the field. I think this will help me out a lot when I work on galaxy clusters.

As for point three..... (okay, okay, yall can stop chanting, "you see, but you do not observe!"), it has been difficult for me to get out of my astronomy-is-a-race mind set. Sure, I've felt an accomplishment when I log 15-20 objects....but all I really have is a list of items checked off. I don't remember what I've seen. Reflecting on what I remember from last night, it seems the very act of sketching -- even if my sketches aren't great representations of the eyepiece view -- helps me remember the objects by the very virtue that sketching forces one to slow down and look.

So I'm going to try to keep with this for awhile.

#2 Asbytec


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Posted 24 December 2013 - 12:23 PM

Michael, I haven't tried either a globular or open cluster, but one can imagine it takes a lot to get the stars in the right place and to capture the essence of a globular. The moon is the same way. Maybe limiting the sketch as you describe might help.

Yea, it's not a race. I remember my father's old fashioned response when I told him I had goto. He wasn't impressed, let's put it that way. I've grown out of goto, computers, and such with no list to check off. Maybe that's a good thing.

Like enjoying a good meal, savor the moment. Log it, and maybe even take the time to sketch it. It does take time, patients, and skill. But, you know what, all that time you spend sketching you're observing the object in depth. Your patients will pay off with seeing more, I believe.

Sketching also breeds familiarity. When someone else comes along and says they saw this or that, you can chime right in because you've seen it in great detail. From the fine rifts in Jupiter's belts to the colors of individual stars and maybe even fainter stars. You've been there and done that. I don't remember all my own sketches, but I recognize most of what others observe cuz I've spent the time to get familiar with it.

I dunno, sorry for rambling. Enjoy the moment, savor the object. I think that's a good, old fashioned plan that will pay off. There's a whole lifetime to see everything.

Oh, when you sketch something, it is a log of what you've seen. Its a picture that paints a thousand logged words.

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