Why sketching isn't just part of astronomy's history

Anyone who reads my ramblings on a regular basis will know that the issue of sketching has come up a few times (see here and here for example).

A number of posts made today on the SPA's BB have, for me anyway, demonstrated why sketching is still an important and enjoyable method of observing and recording what you see when you venture out at night.

The first post I saw today was this sketch of M45 done by Jeff Stevens. The second was a sketch of M42 done by Joe Cummings. What I like about them is that, in both cases, they give you a really good impression of what the objects appeared like at the eyepiece while the observations were being made; they give me a real sense of being there with the observers.

Another post that caught my eye was this set of images taken of various deep sky objects by James Dyson. As luck would have it he'd included images of M42 and M45. I've had some enjoyment today comparing the images with the sketches — both approaches deliver something you can really appreciate (both in terms of the content and the skill involved) and, just as importantly, both approaches convey something very different but equally as informative.

To top it all off Joe has produced this side-by-side comparison. How can anyone, when seeing the images compared like this, seriously suggest that sketching is no longer an important observing tool?

The only annoying thing about all of this is that it's been quite some time now since I've had a combination of a free night, clear sky and no Moon.

File Under: M42, M45, Sketching, Imaging.

1 comment:

Ben C. said...


Excellent points about sketching in the field. I also get a better feeling for the object when it's sketched since this relates exactly to what I could see since I own the same 'detector' as the sketcher ie. a pair of eyes. Photographs are great but they show things that only a camera can detect. I don't get the same visceral feeling as I do from a good sketch.