Wednesday 22 November 2017
Mad rush with a 4 day old Moon!
This really has been a miserable astro year for me and all of Sydney for that matter. We may have sunny days, but the evenings are cloudy or windy or seeing is just the pits. Yet we amateur astronomers are an optimistic bunch, and opportunistic if need be.
Yesterday was another one of those sunny teasers. Few clouds all day long, and sunset saw the clouds disappear! But this was just a tease. On the horizon there was an ambush of rainclouds waiting for the final rays of the sun to disappear to mark their charge upon the Sydney sky.
Expecting this, I had a quick look towards the west as a very thin waxing lunar crescent was low in the sky and close to Saturn. The Moon just proved irresistible, and a huge urge to sketch the gorgeous scene had me thinking – “Do I have enough time? Can I get the gear together fast enough and smash out a sketch before the Moon dips too low and beat the impending rush of cloud cover? Shall I chance it? YES!”
In two minutes I set up my ED80 refractor, and four minutes later again I had my pencils sharpened and sketch pad in hand. A quick compass scrawl of an incomplete circle for the outline of the Moon, off-set for composition value, and then started the mad rush to get as much detail down as possible. The Moon was no more than 30° above the western horizon and dropping fast. In my favour was surprisingly stable seeing over what normally is a very warm and shimmer laden western sky. And as always, the more I look the more detail I see. But there’s no time! The leading charge of clouds started moving in, taunting me as the Moon was briefly obscured. No time to pause. What can I see through the haze that I can lay down in the sketch? MOVE IT! Alex! Keep it neat! Don’t dawdle. MOVE!
And in half an hour it was done, and the Moon disappeared behind clouds right on que!
What a rush!
With the crescent done, I just filled in the Earthshine with a paint brush using soft pastel dust and tidied up any loose markings along the limb. Finished.
I am really happy with this piece. The composition works really well being off-set, and that some of the Earthshine part is cut off works too as goes to make the crescent the focus of attention. It has a certain 3D feel to it, like you are passing by the Moon on your way to another destination. I hope you enjoy this piece too.
Object: 4 day old Moon
Scope: ED80 refractor
Gear: 9mm TMB Planetary Type II, 72X
Date: 21st November, 2017
Location: Sydney, Australia
Media: White soft pastel and charcoal on A4 black paper