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Sat, 09 Jan 2016 - Sketching a comet...

Many thanks to SPA member and Comet observer Dale Holt for contacting me and sending me some of his wonderful sketches of Comet CATALINA US10. In this age of stunning digital images taken with high tech SLRs, sky trackers and remote telescopes, Dale's sketches are a reminder of the visual appeal and beauty of astronomy, and remind us all (as I always tell people at star parties) that sometimes you really do have to let go of the cable release, step away from the camera and just look...



Dale uses a very sensitive video cameras in conjunction with his 2 primary telescopes - a 505mm F3.7 mirror & 153mm F9 triplet refractor. This gives way more sensitivity than the eye and therefore shows very exciting detail, which he then records in his sketches.




I asked Dale in an email chat why he sketches, instead of taking photos, like so many people do?

"I like to be different and rarely go for a common approach at anything. I want that visual gratification that comes with eyepiece and video observation. I don't have the interest in cameras, processing, software etc to obtain good astro images. I don't have the patience to fiddle with cameras and processing software, I want instant results. I find sketch relaxing and it makes you really study the object of interest not just glance at it."

What was your first comet?

"Comet Hale–Bopp (formally designated C/1995 O1) Naked eye visual only as I was living in London at the time and had no optical aid, it was prior to me becoming an an active astronomer. My first sketched Comet appears from my records was 73P/Schwassmann–Wachmann that spectacularly fragmented in 2006."

And what was your favourite comet you've sketched?

"17P/Holmes as it was pretty bright our view of it was unusual and it changed shape day by day, I think I made 20 sketches of it."




Do you sketch other objects in the sky, or just comets?

"Oh yes, what don't I observe & sketch? Primarily I'm a deep sky observer, comets fit nicely with this, I also love to sketch the Moon, these days I do less planetary & solar sketching than I did in the past, but that may well change again in the future."

Thanks for showing us your work Dale!


More about Dale's work and observing on his blog:


Added by: Stuart Atkinson