Friday 23 January 2015

Thor's Helmet - a magnificent apparition

This was the second sketch I completed the night of January 18.

It is amazing how sometimes, while you may perceive a night to be very good, the full quality of the night is not totally realised until you examine an object you visited on another night.  In this case, it was my first sighting of Thor’s Helmet back in 2011.

That night I viewed Thor’s Helmet from inside a valley in the middle of dairy country.  There was a lot of moisture in the air, and transparency fluctuated during the night.  Then I thought I had pretty nice view of NGC 2359, and so inspired I was by the image I saw through my 17.5” scope I sketched it.  Later on back at home, I examined photos of the Helmet, and was surprised to see how extensive the nebulosity was, and how little of it I could see.  All that changed four years later.

This new observation of the Helmet was such a revelation!  It taught me that even if seeing is not the most stable, if transparency is excellent, you will still be granted the most magnificent image quality if you keep the magnification down.  Oh my word!  What a magnificent night we had.

Nebulosity extended out in four directions, two more than my first view.  So much more structure could also be seen, and so many more stars.

This piece, and the one of M42, done on the same night are for me my most satisfying.  The culmination of many years of viewing and sketching all came together to teach me new things, just when I thought I had seen it all, sky quality wise.  I night I will remember for a very long time.

Object:  Thor’s Helmet, NGC 2359
Scope:  17.5” push-pull Karee dob
Gear:  22mm LVW, 91X, OIII filter
Date:  18th January, 2015
Location:  Katoomba Airfield, Australia

Media:  White soft pastel, charcoal and white ink on A4 size black paper.

By way of comparison, below is the sketch i did of Thor's Helmet in 2011, using the same telescope, but with a 16mm Konig eyepiece.  Pretty, but the difference is striking.

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