Illustration by Simon Atkinson. © Simon Atkinson Creative Arts.
Before everyone strapped a camera to their telescopes, a pencil and paper was the way to go. Sharpening a twig is an easy way to make a smudge stick and turn a small graphite blob into an amazing swirling arm of nebula gases. Many famous astronomers of the past went on to create equally famous notebook entries that featured their unique artistic styles. Observational drawing is both an art and a science.
Some amateur astronomers like to use ink for permanent stars, and pencil in the rest of the objects that they observe. They might wish to produce a composite drawing of each individual object they’ve observed on a previous night. However, patience is a virtue when trying to put otherworldly photons down on paper. Most astronomers are tempted to randomly pepper a scene with stars on more than one occasion during their amateur careers, and the discipline requires a great deal of restraint to avoid doing that.
Galileo’s Astronomical Images – Moon Drawings
Despite the rather low-tech images this effort creates, some people actually combine high technology with their astronomy art. While most mobile devices lack great drawing programs, some PDA units actually come with a high-resolution stylus that’s conducive to observational drawing as well. This practice became so popular that it has generated a little buzz on the Internet in the recent past.
I personally learn things better by writing/drawing things in many cases. If you are the same, drawing the objects you view during your stargazing may be a great way to reinforce your memory of the sights you observe.
Image Credits: Simon Atkinson; University of Minnesota