How to


Deep-Sky objects!

"Developed for Netscape."

Last revised: 12-01-1997.

        It's the first clear nite of summer.
 The Moon has just set, and the Milky-Way flows across the horizon.
 The stars are brilliant, and Messier objects appear to the naked-eye.
 Your telescope hops from one view to another.
 You would love to somehow capture this evening...
 .... and you can... by sketching!

        Sketching is simple, inexpensive, and fun.

        You don't need to be an artist to sketch deep-sky objects.
 All you need to sketch is pencil and paper.
 Draw a small circle on the paper to represent the field of view.
 Use the rest of the sheet to record date, time, sky conditions,
 eyepiece and filter used, and any other data you want to keep.

        Before you try a "live" sketch, a little practice wouldn't hurt.
 Try sketching an object from a photograph. See how close you can get
 the overall size and shape of the object and it's relationship
 to the surrounding star field. Don't worry if everything doesn't
 look exactly as the photo, you're just trying to capture the "look"
 of an object. When you're ready to sketch at the telescope,
 study the object for a few minutes before starting.
 Examine the objects brightness, length, width, etc.

         Listed below is a 3 step format on how to draw most deep-sky
 objects. These steps are general, use them as a guide and follow them
 as you like. It all depends on the object, your equipment,
 and sky conditions. Go with whatever works for you...

#1                 -  Draw a few bright field stars to help
                      in positioning.

    For Clusters:
                   -  Carefully Sketch the brighter cluster
                      stars that form a pattern: triangle, square, line.

    For Nebulae:
                   -  Apply pencil graphite in the rough shape of
                      the object. Use heaver shading for brighter areas.

#2 For Clusters: - Using the brighter star patterns as guides, continue to add the cluster stars. Be as accurate as possible in positioning. For Nebulae: - Using an art blending stump, or your fingers, smooth the graphite shape to get the look of diffuse starlight or the glow of ionized gas.

#3 For Clusters: - Sketch the remaining cluster stars, brightest to faintest. Include as many stars as you can to capture the look of the cluster. For Nebulae: - Use your eraser and blending stump to add fine detail to the shape: dark lanes, knots, streaks. Add more pencil graphite to the brighter areas.

- Add remaining field stars. - Indicate field direction, stars drift to the west. - Add notes and comments.

The key to good eyepiece sketches is experience. The more effort you put into sketching, the better you will become, and your sketches will look more realistic.

"sketching animation" (old version)

(new version)

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This is it. Hope you enjoyed the visit. Come again soon!