IC 2602 (C102) – Southern Pleiades
Just below the richest part of the Milky Way, a loose cluster of stars can easily be seen with the naked eye, it's a collection of bright suns around the mag 2.6 star Theta Carinae. This is a very large cluster and therefore the Nagler 31T5 is used again just to be able to frame it completely. About 15 bright stars clearly stand out, apparently divided into two groups by a somewhat dark zone. The center star looks bluish. Furthermore, the field is mainly filled with many faint stars (which I have not drawn all). I find the comparison with the "northern" Pleiades a bit far-fetched, because "our" group is a bit brighter (very easy with the naked eye) and moreover there is no "haze" anywhere in IC 2602 (like the Merope Nebula). Actually, this cluster looks much better in a (large) bino so I want to sketch it again when I return.
NGC 2070 (C103) – Tarantula Nebula
And then onto the Tarantula. What an amazing object that is… I've seen many nebulae pass by over the years, but none look as dramatic as this one, the image is even scares me a bit the first time I observe it... This is an object that is already quite close to the south celestial pole and is more of a winter object (or summer for the southern hemisphere), so it should be viewed right away at nightfall, only to find it at a mere 25 degrees height. Yet, it is already a simple naked eye object even then, just above the LMC. It actually resides in this galaxy and in a way it's incomprehensible that despite that fact it is so clearly visible and shows such an awful lot of detail! It is known to be the most massive HII region within our Local Group and if it were at the same distance as the Orion Nebula, it would occupy an area of 60 degrees in the sky… what more to say.
The 12” dobson is more than adequate to admire the many nebulous veils and the 7mm offers the possibility to see some more details in the center and still frame the complex well enough (outside this area patches of nebula are still visible, but they are already a lot less bright). An OIII filter makes the nebula stand out very well and at the same time dims the fainter stars a bit so that I don't feel like having to sketch an OC... Nevertheless, I spend the first evening placing only the dots, so that I have some nice anchor points on the second evening to "decorate" the nebula.
The attention is immediately drawn to the center. This is the brightest area and looks like a skull with open mouth and a sort of "tusk" on the left; the brightest part of the entire nebula. In the head, two dark zones can be seen as misshapen eye sockets and a bright central star can also be seen here. From the center there is a tangle of nebulous loops in a bit of a diamond shape with brighter zones at the corners of these. But even beyond this, the fog continues.
I have tried to the best of my abilities to indicate the difference in brightness between the different parts without exaggerating or making the object appear brighter/better than it really is. What you see is what you get… This object should certainly be considered in the same class as M42 and should (IMHO) absolutely be in the top-5 of most beautiful deep sky objects.