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Thread: Sketching at the telescope - a one stop shop for astro sketching

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    Default Sketching at the telescope - a one stop shop for astro sketching



    Hi folks,

    A thread along these lines has been on my mind for a while now. With the original sticky thread “Sketching With A Dob Mount?” locked, discussions with Bryan-the-Bladekeeper had us think that maybe a “Sketching with a dob mount? MK II” might be in order. However, a bit of thinking had us see that the topic excludes other scopes and mounts too. I do my sketches using dobs, SCT’s and refractors, from home and from dark sites.

    We also saw the opportunity of creating a thread which could be a central hub of all ideas to do with astro sketching, media, sketch rigs, techniques, ideas, difficulties & revelations, what works and what hasn’t. So this is what this thread is for. A home to discuss all things astro sketching.

    Dew control with astro sketching is being kept under its own independent banner. Dew control is such a unique niche, even within astro sketching, that we have left the thread for it totally as its own thing. NO WHERE else on the internet is dew control with astro sketching discussed. ONLY here on AF. So if you have any questions or ideas about dew control for astro sketching, see the thread related to it:

    Dew control for astro sketching

    Of course, part of the cross pollination of ideas can see dew control mentioned here, especially as dew control needs to be incorporated into one’s sketch rig. But the topic will have its continued unique sticky thread.

    Attachment 174156 , Attachment 174157 , Attachment 174158 , Attachment 174159

    Alex.

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    Default Re: Sketching at the telescope - a one stop shop for astro sketching

    Some cool stuff there, what pens, pencils do you use? (I recently completed a 3 year art course so such things interest me)
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    Default Re: Sketching at the telescope - a one stop shop for astro sketching

    So, just to get the ball rolling, I’ll present my sketch rig and how I'm now doing my DSO sketching and lunar sketching out in the field.

    I’ve designed my sketch rig so I can hook it onto the ladder I use with my dob, or I can hook it onto the back of a chair when I’m using a lower set instrument. The chair then acts to hold my sketching kit.

    Attachment 174160 , Attachment 174161 , Attachment 174162

    The black plastic wrap that you see going over the top and down the left hand side was carefully considered and designed by me. It acts as a simple dew shield, and as a perch from which I attach my gooseneck sketch lights. The shield falls down the left side of the rig and not the right on purpose. As I’m right handed, if I have the shield come down the right side it would interfere with my sketching. So to compensate a little, I’ve extended the shield out across the right side a little more.

    Lights!

    I’ve started experimenting with using amber/orange light with my sketching. Red light is the worst hue for our eyes to make out contrast with. This means that in order to make out details in a sketch, or reading a chart, or any other activity requiring image acuity, we need to increase and increase the brilliance of the red lights in order to make out the details, and then our dark adaptation is compromised.

    The logic of using amber/orange lighting is – if we shorten the wavelength of the light we use, our eyes will be able to better make out contrast, and so need a less brilliant light source, and we won’t compromise our dark adaptation.

    This is what I’ve been finding as being the case with my trials of amber/orange lights.

    My first trial was reading a star chart. First with red light – difficult and I needed to have the light source closer and closer to the paper in order to make out the print, and my dark adaptation was also distrupted. I then tried an amber light – straight away it was much easier to make out the print, and I could hold the light source much further away from the paper in order to be able to read, and my dark adaptation was much better preserved. I also need to mention that the amber light I was using was intrinsically less brilliant than the red.

    DSO sketching with amber light
    Here too amber lighting has been an instant improvement for both my ability to make out the details I am laying down, and the light source I’ve been able to reduce in its brilliance. My dark adaptation has also not been compromised. There has been an added benefit with using the amber light. Even though I have my light source located to my left shining onto the paper at a very shallow angle so the majority of the glare that comes off the paper is reflected of to the right side and not into my eyes with a more square lighting source. With the amber light needing to be less brilliant than the red, this has also meant that the amount of glare coming off the paper has been further reduced!

    The two pictures below show where I place my light source on my DSO sketching rig on the left hand side, and how the majority of the reflected glare goes off to the right instead of into my eyes.

    Attachment 174164 , Attachment 174165

    Amber is not needed everywhere!
    The use of red light is still good. However, it should be used at minimal levels of brilliance, and only to mark out hazards. There is no need for wholesale change to amber lighting. We have already been increasing and increasing the brilliance of our red lights, to change to amber with the same mindset will actually be a step backwards. Amber lighting should ONLY be used when detailed examination of charts, sketching and reading needs to be done. Even when walking about in the dark, amber lighting is actually a SAFER colour to when green foliage is next to impossible to make out with red lights, and hazards are also difficult to identify until it is too late to avoid.

    As soon as I have a photo of me working with my amber lights I'll post it in this thread.


    Working with the Moon

    Of course, amber lighting is not needed with the Moon... THERE IS NO DARK ADAPTATION WHEN VIEWING THE MOON!

    And because contrast is so stark with the Moon, it makes sense to use WHITE light when sketching the Moon, not red... Even better, the Moon allows you to have your surroundings all well lit. This will make switching between the eyepiece to the sketch pad much less difficult because you won't be dealing with one eye that's dazed by Moon's brilliance, but it will also make for a safer and more productive session as you won't be struggling with difficult eye situation.

    Attachment 174163

    Alex.

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    Default Re: Sketching at the telescope - a one stop shop for astro sketching

    Hi Cyclops,

    I've actually made a video of how I do my DSO sketching using the Mellish Technique. Scott Mellish was an Australian amateur astronomer who developed this unique, easy and outrageously effective method of sketching globular clusters, galaxies and nebulae. I was fortunate to have Scott demonstrate his technique to me one afternoon. I was so impressed, overwhelmed, outraged and amazed at how easy it was to portray otherwise seemingly impossible objects, that I wrote an article about it with Scott doing the prove reading. I named the method of sketching he developed "The Mellish Technique". Six months later, Scott sadly passed away in his sleep, age 48.

    The video describes all the materials used, and how to use them to portray "The Holy Tinity - Globular Clusters, Galaxies & Nebulae".



    NOTE: I ONLY use the Mellish Technique with DSOs, not with the Moon. The Mellish Technique is all about finesse, lightness of touch and delicacy. There is NOTHING subtle about the Moon! While I use the exact same materials with the Moon, I use them totally different, and I am most aggressive with the soft pastel and charcoal.


    Alex.

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    Default Re: Sketching at the telescope - a one stop shop for astro sketching

    Below is a timelapse video of me sketching the crater Copernicus. If you look at the DSO sketching video you will see how it is all about delicacy of touch. With the Moon sketch below, you will see just how aggressive I am with the same materials. TOTALLY different approach despite the same materials being used. You will also see just how I am constantly sharpening and shaping the soft pastel pencils. CONSTANTLY!



    Alex.
    Last edited by mental4astro; 03-05-2018 at 09:16 AM.

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    Default Re: Sketching at the telescope - a one stop shop for astro sketching

    And one for clip. This is a timelapse of me at the 2016 Queensland Astrofest here in Australia, sketching the Lagoon Nebula using my 17.5" dob. I was still using red lighting at the time. I wonder how major star parties will receive my use of amber lights!!!



    If you look carefully, at the 21 second mark a meteor flashes just to the left of my scope between the tree and flagpole!

    Alex.

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    Default Re: Sketching at the telescope - a one stop shop for astro sketching

    Great stuff. But for the Melling technique video I found the music got in the way of what you were saying.
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    Default Re: Sketching at the telescope - a one stop shop for astro sketching

    Thanks for the feedback . I'll see what I can do about the audio in that video

    Alex.

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    Default Re: Sketching at the telescope - a one stop shop for astro sketching

    Nice approach, but I have a hell of a time getting good views at times, yet alone trying to draw them.
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    Default Re: Sketching at the telescope - a one stop shop for astro sketching

    Thank you for posting all this great information and advice.

    Clear skies.
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