2010 06 25, Mons Rumker -Stippling

2010 06 25, 0229 UTLunar Dome

Mons Rumker

PCW Memorial Observatory, OH, USA

Erika Rix

Zhumell 16”, 12mm Burgess, 2x Barlow, 300x

Phase: 16.2°

Lunation: 12.64 d

Illumination: 98%

Lib. Lat: 3°37’

Lib. Long: 5°33’

Az: 153°57’, Alt: 19°25’

One of the joys of the types of observing sessions I do is trying new techniques and media to sketch the objects I view (except for my solar sketches….I’ve sort of settled for the comfortable ol’ shoe feeling of my black paper and Conte’). I’ve played around with quills and India ink for years, actually since I was in my early teens. The thought of having an open bottle of India ink next to me in the dark while observing was a not appealing. In fact, as messy as I am with ink, nothing within a 10’ radius would have been safe from being splattered black, including my optics.

I’ve been studying some of Harold Hill’s beautiful sketches and fancied trying my hand at stippling for lunar observations instead of my typical charcoal or pastels. I believe the norm is to do a schematic sketch in pencil and label it with a legend. The idea of this is to bring the sketch back inside and stipple over it with the quill and ink in the comfort of your home with light. If you took care with your notes and the labeling, you could even do this days later.  It takes me long enough to write my reports and record all the data from my sessions and I don’t relish the idea of spending extra time working on a sketch once my session at the eyepiece is over.  Above all, I certainly don’t trust my ability to redraw (or draw over a schematic sketch) using a shading legend, which is one reasons my sketches are completed at the telescope. I want to ensure that there is no chance of me messing up (adding details, misplacing markings, wrong shadings…) the details that I actually see during my session.

Taking all that into consideration, a good alternative to India ink is using a marker. Grabbing what I could find on hand, I used white card stock paper and a permanent marker with a finer point. Since this was my first attempt, I went ahead and tried the schematic sketch with labels first of Mons Rumker. I ended up with lines and numbers all through the sketch so that soon I was unable to make neither rhyme nor reason of the sketch itself.

Next, I tried drawing the dome with a pencil as if I were making a quick regular sketch of it. Then I redrew it inside the house using the marker for stippling. Although it was kind of fun, if I’m going to do a sketch with a pencil anyway, what’s the point of doing it all over again with stippling?  Plus, I accidentally inverted my craterlets in the re-sketch.  The final straw was when I showed the stippled sketch to Paul, my husband who is also an amateur astronomer, and after studying it for a moment, he asked me what it was.

Certainly this was my first attempt, and I’ve learned from it. Harold Hill is a master and I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. But the first step is to actually do it. The second is doing it again and again. Throw in a few tweaks to the media or techniques, and maybe someday I’ll have a recognizable lunar object in my stippled sketch.  I’ve already purchased ultra fine permanent markers and am going to switch to my favorite nighttime paper, which is Rite in the Rain.  My next session for stippling will be completely done at the eyepiece now that I’ve had a good practice session.

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~ by Erika Rix on June 29, 2010.

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