My drawings

M1

M1, or in human language: the Crab Nebula. It's a supernova remnant, related to what ...

M1

M1

M1, or in human language: the Crab Nebula. It’s a supernova remnant, related to what is probably the oldest record of a specific astronomical event. Indeed, in 1054 Chinese astronomers noted the supernova explosion which made a dying star expel out of its outer layers into space. The nebula was then discovered in 1731 and has been a well-observed object ever since. For the visual observer it is a somewhat a-typical object because it will not easily reveal any structure. In small to medium telescopes it just appears as a grey blob, with as its only feature the cusp at its south-eastern edge (left on the drawing). To photographic and scientific observers, however, this object is highly interesting and it’s one of the strongest X-ray and Gamma-ray sources in the known universe. As it’s expanding at 1.500 km per second (!), it will eventually spread and dissolve into space.

M16

The Eagle Nebula is a rich star forming nebula and one of summer's greatest treasures. ...

M16

M16

The Eagle Nebula is a rich star forming nebula and one of summer’s greatest treasures. The nebula certainly isn’t as bright as M17, but still stood out beautifully and one of its most famous features, the so-called “pillars of creation” were clearly visible. These are elongated dark dust lanes blocking the light from the bright nebula behind. The many tiny little stars have only recently been formed out of the hot, blazing gas…

M17

Another member of the top-5 of most beautiful objects in the sky, according to my ...

M17

M17

Another member of the top-5 of most beautiful objects in the sky, according to my humble opinion: the lovely Swan or Omega nebula. Personally I prefer the nickname “swan” because to me it truly resembles a swan, floating on a misty lake. Yes, obviously you’d have to turn this image clockwise about 80° but I’m sure that you’ll see what I mean. It’s a large, diffuse nebula with some remarkable, dark dustlanes in it, especially a very big one under the swan’s head. These dustclouds are obviously invisible to the visual observer, but it’s them which give this nebula its unusual shape, blocking the light from the bright nebula and stars behind them.

 

M20

The Trifid Nebula, another one of those spectacular objects which are almost unobservable in Western ...

M20

M20

The Trifid Nebula, another one of those spectacular objects which are almost unobservable in Western and Northern Europe due to their low altitude above the horizon. Here in Italy, you can see it in all of its splendour. Note that the particular ”division” of this nebula into three parts is caused by dark dustclouds which block the light of the bright nebula behind. I zoomed in at 194x to make this drawing so I could show you as many details as possible. It’s also at these sorts of magnifications that the true power of an 18″ telescope becomes evident. Whereas in any 8″ the image would become almost black (especially with the use of an UHC nebula filter), in an 18″ the background is still greyish and a multitude of stars and nebula filaments leap out at you!

M30

Capricorn is one of the dullest constellations there is. It's faint and there's nothing really ...

M30

M30

Capricorn is one of the dullest constellations there is. It’s faint and there’s nothing really interesting to see in it. Apart from… this incredibly beautiful globular, IMHO one of the fairest of them all. I have to admit that it’s only been the first time I’ve ever looked at it. In good old and horribly light-polluted Flanders it was always too low above the horizon. Here in Italy things are different so I gave it a go. It’s not too compact, it’s got a wonderful and somewhat irregular structure and there are quite a few brighter (older) stars that really stick out in it… it’s just gorgeous!

M35 + NGC2158

I wanted a challenge and I got it with this object. It took me over ...

M35+NGC2158

M35 + NGC2158

I wanted a challenge and I got it with this object. It took me over an hour and a half at the eyepiece to draw all this (without considering the time it took me to work it out on the pc) and still I wasn’t able to quite finish it. Suddenly, I didn’t see the object as good anymore as before. When I looked at the horizon I saw to my frustration that the moon had just appeared. But my frustration went completely through the roof when I also saw that a huge cloud was beginning to cover the entire sky (and M35). But apart from some very faint stars I think that I got it all so I left it there. For the rest it was quite a romantic experience, also because I heard a couple of wild boars grunting and digging in the shrubs at merely 20m away from me. Apart from the bright and rich cluster of M35, I captured the small but lovely NGC2158 in the same view. It’s not as well known perhaps as the large Messier cluster, but I just love it.

M37

My fellow astronomy sketchers will probably agree with me when I say that the most ...

M37

M37

My fellow astronomy sketchers will probably agree with me when I say that the most challenging objects for us to draw are probably complex open clusters, due to the seemingly infinite amount of stars they contain. So I often get already demotivated prior to actually starting to draw, just because of the immense sight of these objects. But at times I persevere and for this particular drawing I spent more than 2 hours behind the eyepiece in the bitter cold, plus several hours behind the pc. But I’m very pleased with the result and I hope you are too.

M45

The Pleiades or "Seven Sisters" are a real pleasure to look at, even with the ...

M45

M45

The Pleiades or “Seven Sisters” are a real pleasure to look at, even with the unaided eye. This object is best observed with a pair of binoculars, but I wanted to capture as much of the nebulosity around the newborn stars as I could, so I rolled out the big gun. It was a difficult observation with the quarter moon still low on the horizon and my eyepieces constantly fogging up. So I was always wondering whether what I saw was “real” nebulosity or just caused by the condensation on the eyepieces. But in the end I think I got everything right…

M46 + NGC2438

M46 is one of the most spectacular open clusters you can imagine. It is enormously ...

M46 + NGC2438

M46 + NGC2438

M46 is one of the most spectacular open clusters you can imagine. It is enormously rich, it is large and… already visible in ordinary binoculars. The downside is that in Northern Europe it’s too low above the horizon to allow decent observation. Fortunately here in the Italian mountains that problem is academic. I spent about two hours in the bitter cold to make this drawing  and afterwards more than twice as much behind the pc. But eventually I’m pleased with the result and I hope you are too. By the way… if you look closely, you’ll see that this wonderful open cluster has a small surprise in store for you… a cute little planetary nebula! Without nebula filter you could almost miss it, but with a UHC or OIII filter it just leaps out at you. Oh… what a beautiful sight…

M57

The famous Ring Nebula... one of the easiest planetary nebulae, a remnant of an exploded ...

M57

M57

The famous Ring Nebula… one of the easiest planetary nebulae, a remnant of an exploded star. Unfortunately, no central star to be seen. The sky was quite turbulent and there was also a quarter moon so that’s more than enough as an excuse, the central star always being very difficult to see.

M56

Globular clusters are truly spectacular objects. Many of them can already be seen as small, ...

M56

M56

Globular clusters are truly spectacular objects. Many of them can already be seen as small, greyish blobs with ordinary binoculars, but only a sizeable telescope will bring out their true beauty. M56 is a smaller one and it’s also quite compact, so it’s not so easy to resolve the individual stars in its core. But still it’s a lovely object and a must for every Deep-Sky lover.

M65 – M66 – NGC3628

Spring's in the air... and here's the galaxy season again. As a warm-up, I made ...

M65-M66-NGC3628

M65 – M66 – NGC3628

Spring’s in the air… and here’s the galaxy season again. As a warm-up, I made a sketch of the famous “Leo Triplet”, or more scientifically galaxies M65, M66 and NGC3628, all in the same field of view. The nice thing about having quite a bit of telescope aperture at my disposal (plus a more than decent sky) is that all these little galaxies begin to show a character of their own. They’re no longer faint, greyish blobs but you can already see quite a lot of structures in them. M65, for example, is quite compact but showed a clear 2-blade helical form, whereas M66 is much more “open” and I clearly saw dark lanes around the very bright core. NGC3628 on the other hand is a bit fainter and very elongated as we see it on its side. The dark dust lane however was clearly visible across its entire length. Ah… how I love these little gems…

M74

M74 is a face-on galaxy in the constellation Pisces. It is one of the dimmest ...

M74

M74

M74 is a face-on galaxy in the constellation Pisces. It is one of the dimmest Messiers and therefore a challenge for smaller telescopes, but on the other hand it offers an easily visible spiral structure.

 

M76

The "Little Dumbell" or, as I prefer, the "Butterfly", is a spectacular little planetary nebula ...

M76

M76

The “Little Dumbell” or, as I prefer, the “Butterfly”, is a spectacular little planetary nebula in the constellation of Perseus and already visible in even the smallest telescopes. As with most planetary nebulae it takes a bit of zooming-in in order to reveal a great number of detail, although it’s peculiar shape can already be distinguished at low mags. There are in fact very few planetary nebulae which show as many details as this one to the visual astronomer with a “normal” telescope. I clearly saw the faint “wings” of the butterfly, whereas under urban skies only the “body” can be seen. So I was very happy with that and it was yet another proof that moving to the Italian mountains pays off when you’re into astronomy.

M78

M78 is a reflection nebula, meaning that it reflects the light of the two young ...

M78

M78

M78 is a reflection nebula, meaning that it reflects the light of the two young stars in front of it which have only just been formed out of the gas cloud. It’s nickname is the “Belt of Venus” and it’s derived from the dark belt just beneath these two stars. Visually, this dark dust and gas cloud is of course invisible, but the way the nebula seems to be “cut off” at its lower-right end hints to its presence. It’s one of the more difficult Messier objects. Not that it’s difficult to spot, but it’s not easy to make out detail in it and in smaller telescopes it usually remains a faint and fuzzy patch. But with my 18″ I even managed to see some of the faint nebulosity under the belt!

M82 + SN2014J

This is the famous "cigar" galaxy. It's fairly obvious where its nickname comes from, isn't ...

M82 + SN2014J

M82 + SN2014J

This is the famous “cigar” galaxy. It’s fairly obvious where its nickname comes from, isn’t it? We see this galaxy edge-on so that’s why it looks so elongated. But actually when I made this drawing in February 2014, there was something spectacular going on there: a supernova! It’s one of these rare events when a giant star literally explodes at the end of its lifecycle. Normally it is impossible to see individual stars in galaxies, just because they’re so far away from us. But this supernova lights up so brightly that we can clearly see it, even with a pair of ordinary binoculars! Now consider something else. This galaxy lies at a distance of 11,5 million lightyears away from us. Meaning that this star actually exploded 11,5 million years ago, but that its light has only reached us now. Imagine that! This explosion took place when we were still in the Miocene period, even long before the first Australopitheci appeared on the African plains! Looking at the sky is looking into the (very distant) past indeed!

Sword of Orion

The Sword of Orion, with obviously the famous Orion Nebula at its centre, is one ...

Sword of Orion

Sword of Orion

The Sword of Orion, with obviously the famous Orion Nebula at its centre, is one of the most spectacular winter sights. Also visible on the drawing is NGC1980 (on the left border) which appeared much brighter than expected without special nebula filter. The brightest borders of the Orion Nebula appeared a little orangy-reddish to me, which I reflected in the drawing. However, I realise that the viewing of colours is a sensitive subject among visual astronomers and not everyone sees them. I also failed to see more than 4 stars in the trapezium, which is not unnatural at this low magnification, although at times I thought I could make out the E star in it. But I wasn’t sure so didn’t draw it.

 

 

NGC40

This little gem is surprisingly enough not very well known among us, Astronomy lovers. But ...

NGC0040

NGC40

This little gem is surprisingly enough not very well known among us, Astronomy lovers. But as you can see, it’s a beautiful planetary nebula which happily shows a lot of detail and a bright central star, the remnant of a supernova explosion. The old star’s atmosphere was ejected and now forms the circular nebula around it. As with most planetary nebulae, you have to push magnification well beyond 200x to see the details inside, but fortunately these objects easily allow this due to their high surface brightness, even with smaller telescopes.

NGC253

The Sculptor Galaxy is one of the brightest and finest galaxies in the sky. Unfortunately ...

NGC253

NGC253

The Sculptor Galaxy is one of the brightest and finest galaxies in the sky. Unfortunately over here in the north of Italy it’s never very high above the horizon. On top of that, I was hampered by a small crescent moon and rather poor transparency. But anyway, it was the very first time that I observed it (yes… after more than 30 years of being an astronomy buff!) and I was very happy with the result. I hope you like it too.

NGC281

This particular nebula is nicknamed the "Pac Man" nebula and I don't suppose I have ...

NGC281

NGC281

This particular nebula is nicknamed the “Pac Man” nebula and I don’t suppose I have to explain why because its resemblance to the yellow, dot-eating videogame star from the eighties is more than obvious. The central star in this huge hydrogen cloud is actually a quintuple star, of which I could only see one other component. The rest was blocked out by the strong nebula filter which only lets light frequencies from the nebula through and therefore dims all the stars considerably.

NGC404 + Mirach

Mirach is the brightest star of the constellation of Andromeda, although it is wrongly classified ...

NGC404 + Mirach

NGC404 + Mirach

Mirach is the brightest star of the constellation of Andromeda, although it is wrongly classified as “Bèta” Andromedae”. It’s an old and wine-red star and its colour can already easily be seen with the naked eye. But just next to this star there’s a little surprise under the form of a small galaxy, nicknamed “Mirach’s Ghost”. It’s not a very spectacular galaxy and apart from a clear nucleus there’s nothing else to be seen but faint fuzziness. But I thought the pair made a nice view so I made a drawing of them.

NGC772

This little galaxy is a rather unknown treasure in the otherwise quite unremarkable constellation of ...

NGC772

NGC772

This little galaxy is a rather unknown treasure in the otherwise quite unremarkable constellation of Aries. Both of the principal spiral arms were clearly visible at 85x but it remains an object for medium and large telescopes. It was a very cold night but the quality of the sky was irresistible so I didn’t mind spending an hour glued to the eyepieces at all.

 

NGC1514

The Crystal Ball is another supernova remnant. Its central star is still very bright and ...

NGC1514

NGC1514

The Crystal Ball is another supernova remnant. Its central star is still very bright and tends to overpower the surrounding nebulosity a bit so it’s not that easy to make out the nebula’s delicate structures. But on New Year’s eve the sky was particularly transparent and most humidity was frozen to the ground so I had a clear view. When the great William Herschel discovered this particular nebula in 1790, it made him completely change his ideas about the universe. Before he used to assume that all nebulous objects consisted of stars too far away to be able to be resolved. But here was a star clearly surrounded by a cloud of gas. Another interesting fact about it is that it’s not just a single central star, but a double one!

NGC1931

When we think about Auriga, we automatically think about the wonderful threesome of open clusters ...

NGC1931

NGC1931

When we think about Auriga, we automatically think about the wonderful threesome of open clusters M36-M37-M38 and perhaps also the Flaming Star nebula. But this constellation is much more than that. It contains loads of beautiful little star clusters which unfortunately remain quite anonymous and not often visited. Take this one for example, a small and rather poor cluster but… which has a small surprise in store if you want too look at it a little closer. Not only is the right-lower corner star of the “house” a quadruple star (of which I only saw 3 members at the rather “low” magnification of 206x), but around it there’s a beautiful little nebula. Some say that it’s a miniature version of the Orion Nebula, with a “trapezium” at its centre. And I have to say that I concur with that. I saw a clear and straight division between a brighter lower part and a dimmer upper part. Unfortunately the sky was quite humid and this didn’t make observation easy. But I hope you like the drawing anyway.

NGC2024 + IC434

Alnitak is the left star of Orion's belt and lies at the heart of a ...

NGC2024

NGC2024 + IC434

Alnitak is the left star of Orion’s belt and lies at the heart of a very interesting region of our sky. To the left lies the emission nebula IC434 which includes the famous Horsehead nebula. The latter is a dark dust cloud with a very peculiar shape which blocks the light from the bright nebula behind it. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit in the same field of view as the brighter and more spectacular Flame nebula on the right of this drawing, so I just centred the telescope on Alnitak in order to catch both the first half of IC434 (without Horsehead) and the almost entire Flame nebula (NGC2024). This Flame nebula is a hydrogen gas cloud which is heated up by the hot star Alnitak and hence begins to glow. There are a lot of filaments to be seen and the dark dust lane which splits it in two was more than evident.

 

NGC2194

This little open cluster is so cute, it's within reach of even a small telescope, ...

NGC2194

NGC2194

This little open cluster is so cute, it’s within reach of even a small telescope, it’s easy to find about halfway between Betelgeuze and gamma Geminorum, but nonetheless it’s seldom paid a visit. What a pity! I hope that my drawing will change all that. I wasn’t able to resolve the cluster completely, perhaps because I was limited to only 206x. Also the slightly veiled sky didn’t really help. But all in all I was very happy with the observation and I promised myself I would take a look at it more often.

NGC2237-46

The Rosette nebula is a giant hydrogen cloud in the constellation of Monoceros, rougly 130 ...

NGC2237

NGC2237-46

The Rosette nebula is a giant hydrogen cloud in the constellation of Monoceros, rougly 130 lightyears in diameter. The gas is heated up by some very hot young stars in its centre and therefore starts to glow too. It’s not an easy object because it’s so large and its light is dispersed over such a vast area, making it difficult to see through a telescope.

NGC2237-46 (binoculars)

This is a drawing of exactly the same Rosette nebula but observed through my Nexus ...

NGC2244 - bino

NGC2237-46 (binoculars)

This is a drawing of exactly the same Rosette nebula but observed through my Nexus 100 astronomical binoculars. The difference with the 18″ telescope is much less than you’d expect at first sight, mainly because with the binoculars I observed at only 24x, whereas with the telescope my minimum magnification is 85x. The higher the magnification, the darker the image becomes because the same amount of light is dispersed over a much larger area.

NGC2324

It's easy to believe that smaller telescopes are better suited on open clusters than the ...

NGC2324

NGC2324

It’s easy to believe that smaller telescopes are better suited on open clusters than the big guns because with a minimum magnification of let’s say 85x, it’s easy to see “through” the clusters. Whereas in a small scope you can enjoy them much better and still have a lovely background.

However, there are a lot of open clusters for which some aperture is definitely required, such as this beauty in the winter constellation of Monoceros, the unicorn. Its general magnitude is 8,4, which still seems rather bright. But the majority of the stars range from the 10th to 14th magnitude, so definitely big boy’s stuff. Conditions were pretty horrible because although the sky was perfect, there was a lot of humidity in the air left from the rain of the last couple of days (until yesterday afternoon!). Luckily I had my microfibre cloth at hand to wipe the eyepieces when they got too fogged up during the hours I spent behind them. I went in cold to the bone but incredibly happy with the result. I hope you are too.

NGC2359

Here's another one of those spectacular nebulae: Thor's Helmet. Although through my telescope it looks ...

NGC2359

NGC2359

Here’s another one of those spectacular nebulae: Thor’s Helmet. Although through my telescope it looks a bit upside down, the shape is obvious isn’t it? It’s a typical winter object and unfortunately rather low above the horizon, especially at the time I made this drawing. But even in smaller telescopes it will reveal a lot of detail with the aid of a good nebula filter. The central star is an extremely hot giant which blows the surrounding gas cloud in a kind of a bubble shape. The gas is heated up and emits light. Therefore this kind of nebula is called “emission nebula”. It’s roughly 15.000 lightyears away from us and 30 lightyears in size.

NGC2775

Here's another very interesting object in the dull and dim constellation of Cancer. I call ...

NGC2775

NGC2775

Here’s another very interesting object in the dull and dim constellation of Cancer. I call it a cure for those who don’t like to observe galaxies because “they’re nothing but faint little blobs”. It’s an easily visible galaxy which shows quite a bit of detail and explicit spiral arms which embrace the bright core. When I made this drawing I had the impression that one of the spiral arms extended upwards and I noticed some haze around the little star above-right of the galaxy. Afterwards, when I looked at photos of the object, this didn’t seem to be the case. But I left the drawing as it is because this was what I (thought I) saw.

NGC3242

Who says that spring's only about galaxies and globulars? What about this little treasure, hidden ...

NGC3242

NGC3242

Who says that spring’s only about galaxies and globulars? What about this little treasure, hidden all alone in one of the least fashionable parts of the sky… the mighty “Ghost of Jupiter”? Planetary nebulae are generally small objects but usually also have a very high surface brightness, which means that they’re just begging for high magnifications. Due to reasons already explained, however, I couldn’t push my scope further than 206x and there was a quarter moon around. But nevertheless the core structures leapt out at me, even without the use of a filter. I couldn’t see the central star though…

NGC4656

Ah... the magnificent Crowbar Galaxy... one of spring's greatest treasures. Its shape is simply amazing, ...

NGC4656

NGC4656

Ah… the magnificent Crowbar Galaxy… one of spring’s greatest treasures. Its shape is simply amazing, the details are stunning. I’ve heard people complain that spring is not an exciting season for astronomers because most of the objects in the spring sky are galaxies. And with galaxies they mean faint, greyish blobs with nothing else to see on them. I’d strongly advise them to take a look at this one. I’m sure they’ll change their minds instantly.

NGC6503

I like browsing the heavens in search for the "unbeaten path"; objects which are often ...

NGC6503

NGC6503

I like browsing the heavens in search for the “unbeaten path”; objects which are often neglected but still have so much to offer. One of these is undoubtedly this lovely galaxy in the constellation of Drago, the dragon. With a magnitude of just over 10 it is within reach of most telescopes and I was impressed by the amount of detail it offered. The core was bright and more or less rectangular, with the right 2/3 clearly brighter than the left 1/3. Under the core there was absolute nothing, as if a dark dust lane blocked the light there. Above it, the brightness of the core faded into the background. To the left and right there were two clear spiral arms visible like crescent moon disks and indeed separated from the core. Yes… loved it!

NGC6804

Aquila, the Eagle, is a real treat for everyone who wants to go on a ...

NGC6804

NGC6804

Aquila, the Eagle, is a real treat for everyone who wants to go on a treasure hunt for deep-sky jewels because it is literally packed with beautiful planetary nebulae such as this one. It’s central star is relatively easy to be seen. It is actually this star that exploded thousands of years ago in a supernova and propelled its atmosphere into space, creating the nebula. This kind of nebula usually has a “planetary” shape, hence the word “planetary nebula”. The first thing that struck me was the “eye” around the central star, and the fact that the nebula looks a lot larger than one would expect from the naked figures. But that’s probably an illusion caused by the absence of a real border (for as far as I could see). The nebula just seemed to fade out into the background. Loved it!

NGC6857

This rather unknown beauty in Cygnus is an emission nebula (meaning that it emits light ...

NGC6857

NGC6857

This rather unknown beauty in Cygnus is an emission nebula (meaning that it emits light on its own) which is a part of a large star-forming region in our Milky Way. With 25.000 lightyears it’s quite distant and therefore rather reserved for larger telescopes, but it still shows a lot of detail at higher magnifications. I didn’t use any nebula filter on this one, in part because I don’t owe a 2″ UHC or H-Bèta filter yet, but also because these filters would make the strange “background nebulosity” disappear. This background nebulosity is in fact caused by thousands of stars in that right but far-away arm of our Milky Way, of which I had the sensation that I could almost resolve it into tiny little stars, and then again just not. I hope this wonderful sensation shows well in the drawing.

NGC6888

The Crescent Nebula in the constellation of Cygnus is a so-called emission nebula. The gas ...

NGC6888

NGC6888

The Crescent Nebula in the constellation of Cygnus is a so-called emission nebula. The gas is heated up by the massive radiation from the star in its centre and therefore starts radiating light and even x-rays itself. It is not an easy object and you definitely need very good skies and a decent telescope in order to see it in all its glory. But it’s truly amazing and you can discover a multitude of wonderful details in it. It’s also located in one of the densest parts of our Milky Way and therefore lies in a field of thousands of stars. So I was a bit apprehensive about embarking on this particular drawing. In the end I wasn’t able to draw all the stars that I saw anyway because it’s like you can resolve the Milky Way in millions of individual stars. But I still hope you like my work…


NGC6905 + Nova DEL 2013

August 2013 will be known among us astronomers as the month of the Delphinus nova. ...

NGC6905 + Nova Delphini

NGC6905 + Nova DEL 2013

August 2013 will be known among us astronomers as the month of the Delphinus nova. A nova is a cataclysmic nuclear explosion of a dying star, probably caused by the accretion of hydrogen and helium sucked in from a close companion star. It is therefore not to be confused with a supernova explosion which totally destroys the original star and propels most of its outer shells into space. But nevertheless it is a quite spectacular event because a seemingly new and bright star appears where before there wasn’t anything to be seen. As this particular nova appeared very close to the lovely planetary nebula NGC6905 I tried to catch both of them in the same field of view, which just worked with my 24mm Explore Scientific ultrawide eyepieces. So the arrangement of the drawing isn’t all that good but at least I’ve got both of them. The nova is the very bright star on the extreme right. I observed a slight greenish hue in it which wasn’t due to field of view border astigmatism, because I also noticed it when I put the nova in the centre. Whether this colour is due to my imagination, eyepiece false colour or whether it is real, I can’t say…

NGC6946

This is the lovely "Fireworks Galaxy". Its nickname comes from the fact that it really ...

NGC6946

NGC6946

This is the lovely “Fireworks Galaxy”. Its nickname comes from the fact that it really looks like typical Chinese fireworks (you know… the spinning wheel…) but also because no less than 9 supernova explosions have been observed in it over the past 100 years, which must be a record. The first thing that struck me was that its nucleus looks like an “eye”, as if dark dustlanes surround the nucleus, making it look like a pupil. I could only make out two of the spiral arms and for the rest some faint nebulosity under the nucleus. But then again, it is a rather faint galaxy.

NGC6960

The Veil Nebula is the remnant of a supernova that exploded somewhere between 5000 and ...

NGC6960

NGC6960

The Veil Nebula is the remnant of a supernova that exploded somewhere between 5000 and 8000 years ago. The filaments of gas were dispersed in all directions, away from the dying star. The western part has a particularly delicate structure with the reasonably bright star 52 Cygni in the middle (this star is much closer to us and has nothing to do whatsoever with the nebula). It took me about an hour to catch all the fine filaments on paper but I’m very fond of the result. The drawing also shows what a strong nebula filter (OIII) can do. It doesn’t make the nebula brighter at all, but dims the background and the surrounding stars in such a way that the nebula stands out a lot more and hence you can observe the nebula structures a lot better.

 

NGC6992-6995 / IC1340

There are always these drawings you've always wanted to make but never got round to. ...

NGC6995

NGC6992-6995 / IC1340

There are always these drawings you’ve always wanted to make but never got round to. Well, this is one of them. Perhaps I was afraid of the many subtleties, the complexity and the enormous amount of time involved (mostly because having to re-acclimatise my eyes to the dark after every pencil stroke). This nebula is a remnant of a supernova which exploded about 8.000 years ago (together with NGC6960 – see other drawing) and it’s just so spectacular with the binoviewer and a couple of 82° eyepieces. It just didn’t fit in the field of view though and unfortunately I had to find a balance between the “snake’s teeth” (IC1340) and the bright NGC6992 area. It also took me quite some time indeed, but in the end I’m really pleased with the result. I hope you are too.

NGC7000

Yesterday was the 4th of July and so I just had to get out and ...

NGC7000

NGC7000

Yesterday was the 4th of July and so I just had to get out and draw the North-America nebula, hadn’t I? Not with the big cannon this time, but with my Nexus 100 binoculars because I wanted to show the “unconvinced” what a powerful instrument a decent pair of astronomical binos can be. And… how complementary to a telescope. Between brackets, you’d be amazed how much you can already see with ordinary 10×50 binos, or with the naked eye! In fact, this particular nebula is very well visible to the naked eye, as long as the sky is dark enough to show you the Milky Way. With the 21mm Siebert Ultrawide eyepieces (80°) inserted in my Nexus I nearly caught the entire nebula in the FOV and along the upper rim the Pelican came into sight as well. Perhaps with a large telescope the nebula looks a lot brighter and details become more evident. But the immersive aspect of the binos is unmatched on this kind of object, well, IMHO. I’d also like to remind you that the sky was quite hazy yesterday so conditions were far from perfect!

NGC7008

The so-called Fetus-Nebula in the constellation of the Swan is one of my personal favourites. ...

NGC7008

NGC7008

The so-called Fetus-Nebula in the constellation of the Swan is one of my personal favourites. It’s a fairly small planetary nebula, but so rich in features that it’ll never bore you. Therefore I’m a bit disappointed by its hardly romantic nickname and if ever someone comes up with a better alternative, be sure to have my vote! Please give this nebula a try, even if you’re only having a small telescope.

NGC7086

NGC7086 is an unknown but nevertheless lovely open cluster in Cygnus. The first thing that ...

NGC7086

NGC7086

NGC7086 is an unknown but nevertheless lovely open cluster in Cygnus. The first thing that draws your attention is the cross-like central figure with exactly in its “heart” a bright and very red star. This star actually doesn’t belong to the cluster itself but still gives it an even more spectacular appearance. What I also noticed, was a kind of “nebulosity of stars” behind the main structures, which I couldn’t resolve. Whether this was due to my imagination (caused by the large number of tiny stars in the core) or whether there are still a lot more (invisible) stars in this cluster I don’t know. When I googled some images of this cluster afterwards it appears that there are indeed much more stars in that area which seem impossible to distinguish individually at the eyepiece, but which may cause this effect.

NGC7293

The Helix Nebula is with its distance of "only" 700 lightyears the closest planetary nebula ...

NGC7293

NGC7293

The Helix Nebula is with its distance of “only” 700 lightyears the closest planetary nebula to the Earth. It is very similar to the Ring Nebula (M57). Planetary nebulae are the remnants of dying stars which expelled their outer shells into space in a gigantic supernova explosion. This usually happens in a more or less circular pattern and the gas of the nebula is lit up by the high radiation of the remaining white dwarf star in its centre. The Helix Nebula is roughly 2,5 lightyears across and keeps growing at a very fast rate. Eventually the gas filaments will break apart (see e.g. the Veil Nebula – NGC6960 and NGC6992) and dissolve into space while the white dwarf star fades and dies.

NGC7293 – Binocular view

This drawing is the same object but observed through my Nexus 100 astronomical binoculars.

NGC7293 - bino

NGC7293 – Binocular view

This drawing is the same object but observed through my Nexus 100 astronomical binoculars.

Stephan’s Quintet

Stephan's Quintet is arguably the most famous compact cluster of galaxies, but since its brightest member ...

NGC7317-18-18a-19-20

Stephan’s Quintet

Stephan’s Quintet is arguably the most famous compact cluster of galaxies, but since its brightest member is only magnitude 13,9 it’s not an easy object. For this drawing I zoomed it at 255x in order to try to see as much detail as possible. Unfortunately bad seeing and above all a nasty wind made the observation difficult. Not to mention standing on a rather wobbly stepladder.

Abell 2666

When the sky's of very good quality, it's time for some " big boys' " ...

Abell2666

Abell 2666

When the sky’s of very good quality, it’s time for some ” big boys’ ” observing. Abell 2666 is a rich cluster of galaxies. Yes! Galaxies! This means that every faint fuzzy you see on this drawing actually equals tens of millions of stars! I could identify 5 members of this particular cluster, so not bad I’d say…

“Frosty Leo”

"Frosty Leo" is an object that was only recently discovered, in 1987 if I'm not ...

Frosty Leo

“Frosty Leo”

“Frosty Leo” is an object that was only recently discovered, in 1987 if I’m not mistaking. It’s not yet a planetary nebula but a protoplanetary nebula. This means that the collapsing central star is rapidly ejecting its outer shell but that the ionisation phase which forms the eventual nebula has not yet taken place. So the gases from the star are not yet emitting light yet but merely reflect the light from the dying star. I had some trouble finding “Frosty Leo” because I believed it to be somewhat bigger, whereas at 85x it can easily be mistaken for a star. Even at 206x it just looks like a tiny little “bar” with the lower end being slightly brighter. Unfortunately I’m blocked at this magnification for the moment due to some modifications I made to my telescope, but I hope you enjoy the sketch anyway.

1 ARI

Some people argue that a Dobsonian telescope is only a light-bucket, made out of cardboard ...

1 ARI

1 ARI

Some people argue that a Dobsonian telescope is only a light-bucket, made out of cardboard and unsuitable for high-quality and high-resolution observation. This may have been true in the eighties, but today things have changed. In fact, I challenge any other telescope to beat a good Dobson! Here’s a nice double star, 1 ARI: magnitude 6,0 and 7,5 with a distance of only 3 arcseconds. As you can see, there’s still a lot of black between the two stars, even during a night with a lot of turbulence in the ky. The primary star looked yellowish to me, but I didn’t verify if this is true. The seconday star also appeared a lot fainter than its true magnitude would suggest, but obviously this is an optical illusion caused by the extreme vicinity of the brighter star.

Sigma ORI + STF761

This system of two multiple stars is a joy to observe in every telescope. From ...

Sigma ORI

Sigma ORI + STF761

This system of two multiple stars is a joy to observe in every telescope. From low magnification in a small refractor to 800x in a gigantic Dobson. They will reveal something extraordinary to everyone. Obviously, I wasn’t able to separate the central star of Sigma ORI because with a separation of merely 0,25″ this is science-fiction for every visual observer. Also the rather poor seeing and the full moon didn’t really help. But nonetheless I was touched once again by this system’s beauty. I hope you like it too.

Mars 19 Mar 2012

Mars may be a very popular planet and one of the closest to Earth, it ...

Mars 2012-03-19

Mars 19 Mar 2012

Mars may be a very popular planet and one of the closest to Earth, it isn’t an easy object at all, even though it can be one of the brightest “stars” in the sky. The reason for that is that the details on the planet are quite faint and tend to be made invisible by the planet’s brightness. However, here’s another reason why observing with two eyes will help because the details will leap out a lot easier as the excess brightness is dispersed over both eyepieces. The sky was fairly calm as well and I had no trouble at all seeing Syrtis Major, the Sinus Meridiani and other features in sharp detail. To the right, you can see the northern polar cap, which was pretty small at the time this drawing was made. The six “rays” around the planet are no fruit of my imagination to make the drawing look better. In fact, they’re evidence that this drawing was made with a Newtonian telescope because they’re diffractions caused by the three spider vanes that hold my secondary mirror.

Jupiter 06 Dec 2011

Jupiter is the biggest planet of our solar system and offers a myriad of features ...

Jupiter 2011-12-06

Jupiter 06 Dec 2011

Jupiter is the biggest planet of our solar system and offers a myriad of features even for small telescopes. Evidently, in an 18″ Dobson you can make out the most wonderful festoons and colours on this beautiful planet, even when the sky’s very turbulent like on the night of this particular observation. Nonetheless this proves that the story about large-aperture Newtonian telescopes only coming second when high-resolution observing is concerned, is just a myth. The amount of detail was stunning, even though you had to wait a few moments from time to time for the sky turbulence to settle down again. I’ve never been much of a planetary observer, but when I saw this I was glued to my eyepieces for hours. Who would blame me? On this drawing, three of Jupiter’s Galilean moons can be seen. One of which, Europa, was about to transit in front of the planet and appears to be almost “touching” Jupiter at its upper-right edge.

Comet 2011-L4 “Panstarrs”

Comets are very curious and exciting objects. Mostly because you never know when a comet's ...

Panstarrs

Comet 2011-L4 “Panstarrs”

Comets are very curious and exciting objects. Mostly because you never know when a comet’s coming to visit us (apart from the minority which has a regular orbit around the sun, such as Halley’s comet) and even when a new comet’s discovered, it remains a guess how visible it will be. But in March 2013 we were blessed with a very bright comet, even though it remained very close to the horizon. Frustrating enough, I couldn’t observe it from my shack because of the hill behind our field which hides the lower 10-15° of the northwestern sky from my telescope. So I ran to the street behind this hill, armed with a pair of binoculars and a camera. With the naked eye, however, no comet to be seen. The camera only showed the comet as an extremely faint blob. But with the binoculars it was quite evident, just above the Monte Ventasso. So I combined both the picture and my impression through the binoculars into this drawing. A small crescent moon illuminated the sky and against the Monte Ventasso you can see the lights of the village of Busana. It’s just an impression of the beauty of this region and I hope you like it.