Planetary Sketches

As a convention, all planetary sketches are shown with south up and preceding (west in the sky) to the left. In a very loose sense all colors are real, but it's been necessary to exagerrate their intensities a bit. Contrast between bright and dark planetary features has likewise been exagerrated. The most difficult of planetary features come into and exit out of vision as one studies a planet through an eyepiece. It's not possible to show this effect in a non-moving sketch. As a result, a sketch will often clearly show features that were only seen fleetingly at the eyepiece.

Unless otherwise noted, the telescope used for the below observations was an old 20cm Schmidt Cassegrain of questionable optical quality. One does not need the 'best' of telescopes in order to enjoy amateur astronomy. As long as one works hard with what one has, without preconceived expectations, one ought to have countless nights of viewing pleasure.

Mercury. Each of these sketches was made near 00:40 UT in 1985. The upper sketches, from left to right, were made on the 14th and 15th of March. The lower sketches, from left to right, were made on the 16th and 18th of March. All were made during poor seeing conditons with the 20cm aperture stopped down to 7cm. A magnification of 166x was used. The differing apparent diameters and phases of the planet have been noted in the sketches. Surface markings are of questionable accuracy under the circumstances.

Venus. In order from upper left, to upper right, to lower center; the sketches were made on 10, 12, and 18 March 1985 using a magnification of 166x. Notice the change in apparent size and phase from the earlier to the later sketches. Venus is a brilliant, intensely bright, white planet. Nowadays I like to use relatively dense color filters while observing Venus. (Note: These Venus sketches were not drawn to the same scale as the Mercury sketches.)

Mars at 234x. This sketch was made at 5:35-5:50 UT on 13 July 1986. The 20cm aperture was stopped down to 7cm due to poor image quality at full aperture. It was difficult to tell if the polar areas were white or just lightly colored. No filters were used. Nowadays I rarely observe Mars without using color filters.

Jupiter and Europa. left: at 4:26 26 June 1994 UT using a 25cm Newtonian at 211x. right: at 5:29 29 August 1985 UT using a 20cm Schmidt Cassegrain at 166x. These two sketches reveal just a hint of the differences that optical quality and aperture can make even though the Newtonian hadn't yet been "tweaked" to maximum performance. In the time that passed between the making of the two finished sketches my sketching technique had undergone some change. My later Jupiter sketches are even more different! In a very real sense each additional finished sketch is yet another experiment in using ink.

Saturn at 7:05-7:50 UT on 15 May 1985 under exceptionally good seeing conditions. Saturn was at opposition on that very night. A magnification of 285x was used. In more recent observations with different telescopes a thin equatorial belt is sometimes visible, and Saturn's C-ring is often visible against the background sky.

Uranus at 8:30 UT on 15 May 1985 at 285x under exceptionally good seeing conditions. Uranus was brighter in its central region than it was along its limb, as shown in the sketch.

Neptune at 9:20 UT on 15 May 1985 under exceptionally good seeing conditions. The magnification was 285x. Uranus and Neptune are shown to the same scale, as seen through the telescope.

Pluto at 3:27 UT on 20 May and 3:25 UT on 21 May 1985. A magnification of 166x was used. This was the second time I had managed to observe Pluto and the first time that I had carefully documented a Pluto observation. The motion of the planet during the 24 hour time period is clearly shown in the sketch. A dark sky and accurate charts are an immense help in finding and identifying this distant planet.

Links Within this Website

Solar Sketches-----------------------------------Lunar Sketches
Planetary Sketches-------------------------------Planetary Sketches - page 2
Jupiter-SL9 Sketches----------------------------Comet Sketches
Comet Hyakutake Sketches----------------------Comet Hale-Bopp Sketches
Deep Sky Sketches------------------------------Deep Sky Sketches - page 2
Rough Sketches----------------------------------Paintings

Why make sketches?-----------------------------The Art of Astronomical Sketching
Character Sketch---------------------------------Links to Other Websites
Home-made Binocular Mount-----------------Home

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