Astronomical Sketching by Deirdre Kelleghan Published in Reflector 2006
I have sketched, drawn, and painted for most of my life, and I have had a love affair with the night sky for as long as I can remember. It is only in the last two years that I have combined both these interests into a new adventure.
This came about by the example and encouragement of a dear friend. She introduced me to the absorbing passion of astronomical sketching. This activity has given me an outrageous amount of pleasure and learning, and continues to do so.
I have discovered that to achieve a good sketch, you must look at what you want and not only observe it, but also absorb it. You must make a mental note of your target, and bring it from the subject through the eyepiece to your paper.
My telescope does not have a drive, so I move it with my head, my free hand, my knee or basically what ever it takes to follow my target, over the time I am attempting to capture it.
For a while I was pleased with my lunar pencil sketches but there was something not quite exact enough. The Moon is a melody of grey tones and I wanted to address that.
I went out and bought all the grey conte crayons I could find that matched the lunar greys. More recently I did the same for soft pastels.
Craters that penetrate the terminator and show their rims as glints of light in the blackness bring a tactile quality to a sketch. Shadows cast by Aristoteles and Eudoxus on a waxing crescent Moon sometimes appear like long black needles, taking my attention for hours.
Lately I have been focused on Palus Somni, the gossamer beach – like area on the north eastern rim of Mare Tranquillitatis. I think about how I will sketch its pale thin appearance. Low crescent Moons are difficult for a Dobsonian, so I often end up heaving it around to avoid trees and power cables.
Sketching is the best most intense way to learn the Moon. The ever changing symphony of shadows and light are a joy to observe and reproduce.