Sunday, 10 June 2018

The Eskimo... again...

In one of my first posts I talked about NGC2392, otherwise known as the Eskimo Nebula for obvious reasons. It does look like a head wrapped in a parka hood, doesn't it? 

This winter, during a very clear (but teeth-chattering cold) night I finally pointed the binoscope at it and pushed power to 507x. There are these moments when an 18" binoscope not just performs on par with high-quality photographs but even outperforms them. This was one of these moments. 

Astronomical sketching is a very subjective form of art and often artistic creativity tends to take the upper hand on true scientific observation. It's a delicate balance because we sketchers want to show the viewer every detail we (think we) have spotted. Observation through a telescope, however, usually resides at the very edge of what a human eye can possibly capture; staring at a faint object for minutes if not hours, direct vision, averted vision, trying to avoid any external interference. Sometimes it gets so bad that the whole image starts dancing in front of our eyes, especially with one-eyed viewing, and we get overwhelmed by fatigue. Therefore it's generally so hard to tell whether certain details were really observed or merely intuitively suggested. 

Then there's the question of how you want to represent these faintest of details. If you draw them clearly, the image easily gets "overdone" and albeit artistically pleasing and massively impressive, you can't really state that that's exactly how you've seen the object at the eyepiece. Any viewer who'd look through a telescope after being wowed by such a drawing would be seriously disappointed. 

Personally, I prefer to draw everything as realistically as possible, even if I have to make some details all but invisible. This may perhaps result in less impressive sketches and I've already read a lot of criticism on my work on-line, like someone claiming that he can see a lot more with his 9,25" SCT. Well, if that's the case, I'm very happy for him. My aim is to give the viewer (hopefully) the same challenge as I had behind the eyepieces. "Can you see it or not?" I don't care if my sketches don't look as fancy as some others. 

Astronomical sketching is not a competition.  

Yet, in the particular case of the Eskimo, I didn't have to hide any details at all because this is exactly how it appeared at first glance.


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