2011 07 10 – Bullialdus

Bulllialdus: Complex crater from Copernician period (-1.1 billion yrs to present day), Lat: 27.7 deg south, Long: 22.2 deg west.

Zhumell 16”, 21-7mm Zhumell, 257x, no filter
Temp20C, 92% humidity, S: Antoniadi III, T: 2/6
Eyepiece sketch on Strathmore Artagain paper, Conte’ crayon, charcoal
Phase: 65.5deg, Lunation: 8.75d, Illumination: 70.7%
Lib. Lat: +5deg21’, Lib. Long: +2deg21’
Az: 212deg51’, Alt: 23deg30’

I’ve been meaning to try my hand at painting the Moon in watercolor for quite some time. Up until tonight, I’ve never tried using watercolors at the eyepiece. Figuring it would be easier for me to use binoculars instead of my 16″ reflector (without a tracking platform), I set up my tripod and paints.

Paul took a break from imaging to have a peek through the binoculars for a full phase view.

I masked off the Moon on my watercolor paper and began with a light blue background to match the late evening skies. The blue water was streaking across the vast backdrop off my painting. Not able to correct it, I began again with a clean sheet of paper. This time, I had the backdrop nearly perfect but then when I tried rubbing the masking off of the limb of the outlined Moon, the grain of the paper ripped and became rough. {sigh} Third time was a charm as I overcame the streaking by laying my sketching board flat on my lap and then waited until the backdrop was dry before attempting to remove the masking.

Paul Rix

By this time, I felt a little pressured to complete the sketch while it was still light enough to see the sketch pad without artificial light. The lunar details were suffering, not only because I felt rushed, but also because I’m not a very good painter and need to practice!  I forced myself to continue despite the poor results until I felt very confident that there was no way I could salvage the painting (despite Paul’s encouraging words while sitting behind his telescope). I chalked up the three failed watercolor paintings wadded up in the trash can  as a good introduction to painting at the eyepiece! It was time to put the paints away and start a proper sketch.

Paul's imaging gear to the right, my gear to the left. Paul's taking a peek.

My first thought was to get out my Rite in the Rain paper and charcoal, but  that terminator line was looking very dramatic and I decided to try another lunar sketch with black paper and white pastels. I chose the white on black because it can be a lot quicker to draw highlights than to draw shadows and I knew there would be a race against time to sketch on the terminator line.

There comes in a time in almost every lunar sketch where I feel like giving up, that the details just aren’t being caught on paper. But persistence usually pays off and I continued until the Moon moved behind the pig nut trees to the western boarder of our property. The paper size is 9″x12″.

There’s just something about Bullialdus that keeps me coming back. This is my third time sketching it along with its two companion craters. For more details about this complex crater, have a look into my report on Dec 4th, 2010 .

Something didn’t really look right to me during my observation. It was only when I called it a night and came back in the house that I realized that Bullialdus A looked a lot larger (and Bullialdus B for that matter) than normal. There’s not a real sharp northern edge to Bullialdus A. It almost has a plateau-like bridge connecting it to the crater Bullialdus. The lighting played against that (or that explanation seems reasonable to me) to make it appear larger than normal.


~ by Erika Rix on July 10, 2011.

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