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Sketching just one star, but Mira!

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#1 Aquarellia



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Posted 13 February 2018 - 03:45 AM

But... what a star !


Today we can follow a very long maximum of this star (Omicron Ceti), more than 45 days with a magnitude better than +4, (tonight +3.2), and not fading yet.  This maximum is far from usual.  In the Latin language Mira means the « Marvelous ».
I spend some nice evenings with this interesting star.  Of course I send my own magnitude visual estimations to the AAVSO but not only.  Since David Fabricius (an amateur astronomer) in the year 1596, we are 2267 observers drawing the curve of this first ever variable.

Here’s the story.
- I found a nice beach of the Artignosc lake to paint this watercolor.  We can see the bridge over the river and the moon light near the horizon, what photographers can’t do; I take the moon off the sky to show only the stars.  As an auto-portrait, you can also see the sketcher.  I show you the direction of Mira.


Verdon-Mira_ll.jpg Verdon_baleine-t_ll.jpg

- In my little observatory I used my refractor, 152mm F/D=8 connected with a « star analyzer » 100 and the associated 3.8° prism. This is just a “visual” spectrum also watercolor made. To do this I sketch the rainbow line in black and white and I point out the visible absorptions and emissions lines.  Anyway I can see some interesting lines as those of TiO and ZrO plus the H gamma emission one.



- The funnier think I did then, I use as a reference the sketch done by Camille Flammarion, a famous French astronomer.  This sketch was found in the « Les Etoiles » an old book (1882) that I have in my collection. 




Mira is moving quite quickly in the sky (0.238" per year).  The companion star of Mira is not a secondary star, much close (55 Ly) to us than Mira (300 Ly) but can be used as a reference because the speed of this companion is very low (0.011" per year).  The first spot (1683) was plotted by Cassini.  I just superpose my sketch of the field with the one of Flammarion, and the result gives only 10% error on the actual speed of Mira.






So here for this simple easy observation I used some astronomical subjects as, astronomical history, visual observation, spectroscopy, magnitude estimation, astronomical position, and of course, what we can do with a pencil and some colors, astro-sketching !


If weather permit, try to have a look at Mira tonight, same naked eye just the color is worth a visit.

Clear sky to you all



#2 Senza


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Posted 13 February 2018 - 08:01 AM

I was just reading about the discovering of Mira by David Fabricius and then found your fantastic post. Impressive work, thanks for sharing.

#3 Uwe Pilz

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 10:05 AM

We have a great Mira season. It is rewarding to sketch the surrounding sky unaided eye. Thank you!

#4 niteskystargazer


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Posted 13 February 2018 - 03:26 PM



Very nice presentation smile.gif .




thanx.gif ,



#5 frank5817



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Posted 13 February 2018 - 08:24 PM



Beautiful sketching and nice historical linkage to this well know long period variable that has been monitored all these many years. I like your naked eye capture of the Mira's color near maximum now. Your stellar spectroscope gives nice images for sketching. Excellent work here you are sharing with us all.

Excellent post.


Frank :)

#6 Special Ed

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 10:33 AM

Excellent, Michel--you are the complete amateur astronomer.  flowerred.gif 

#7 cloudbuster



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Posted 14 February 2018 - 01:41 PM

Wonderful work as always! I like the historical notes as well.


Regards, Martijn

#8 JawZziff


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Posted 14 February 2018 - 05:42 PM

Very cool investigation of Mira. Nice work!

#9 Aquarellia



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Posted 18 February 2018 - 09:56 AM

Thank you for your so kind words, much appreciated.

It's not the end of the game, Mira is still very brillant !


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