Conlin Hill Observatory -- 42 7' N, 71 54' W
Techniques - Sketches and Drawings  

In December 2002 I became a member of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers. After joining I purchased an Association publication entitled: "The Novice Observer's Handbook" by Tim Robertson and Matthew Will. This text is intended to prepare members who wish to submit scientifically valid observations to the Association. One of the requirements is that the student learn to sketch their observation. Drawing is emphasized over imaging on the basis that it requires the observer to become more involved in the observation. Drawing will train the observer to more adeptly pick out features and contrast differences.

I'm not much of an artist (although I have done some notable crayon art, but that's a story for another time). I decided that, rather than use up a clear night at the scope, I'd practice by sketching from an image. Two nights after the full moon I got a decent 250X image of Mare Crisium. I used this to create my first practice sketch:

I purchased a set of drawing pencils on-line from a company called In2Art ( The pencil set was "Generals Graphite Drawing Kit #25" and contained 10 pencils each with a different lead, an eraser and a sharpener. I also picked up a number of assorted blending stumps which help to smooth out the pencil strokes and blend intensities. The whole package with shipping was less than $15, I had a nice smooth transaction with the stuff arriving at my house about 1 week after I placed my order. Following the instructions in the ALPO Handbook, I first made an outline of the subject, and then added intensity data to it. The intensity data is just the assignment of numbers representing light and dark, (0 - black, 10 - white, 1-9 shades of grey getting lighter with higher numbers). Here's my first intensity diagram:

It took me over an hour to make this drawing with the intensity estimates. The ALPO handbook says it should take around 45 minutes, so it's clear I need more practice. Finally, the technique calls for shading in all the areas with the appropriate intensity, as specified by the intensity drawing. It took me another hour to complete this stage and to arrive at my final drawing of Mare Crisium. Here are the image and final drawing, side by side:

Overall I guess I'm ok with this first attempt. It's going to take some time to understand how to work with the various pencils, some are hard and light, some soft and dark, some blend well, some don't. Also, choosing a Mare as my first subject probably wasn't wise. A smaller object at higher magnification might be better. Practicing drawing from an image seems like the way to go, so as to not waste valuable time at the telescope learning how to make the drawings. After I've done a few I might be more inclined to do them in the field.

-to be continued-

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