NCRAL 2011 Astronomical Sketching Workshop/Presentation Recap

Last month’s presentation at NCRAL went really well. On Friday night, a group of about 35 attended the workshop where we practiced deep sky (M51/NGC 5195), planetary (Jupiter), and lunar (Cassini Crater: Thanks to Mike Wirths for the use of his image) sketching. Each attendee was supplied with sketch templates on 110# index stock, pencil, kneaded eraser, blending stump and chamois cloth. Each table also shared a sanding block and sharpened vinyl eraser pencil. On one screen an image of the object was projected to represent the eyepiece view, while a second screen displayed a live video feed showing the technique I was demonstrating and the sketch in progress.

For M51 and Jupiter, I wanted to project an animation showing the typically soft image with moments of clarity…I just didn’t have time to set those up. So I started each with the soft view and progressively showed a bit more detail in each as the sketch progressed. That seemed to be a pretty good tradeoff for simulating the gradual improvement in what you see as you spend time observing and sketching the object. It’s the first time I’ve tried a live demo like this, and it seemed to be pretty successful, although there are a few things I’ll want to change if I do it again. I really appreciate Dave Jelinek’s expert help in coordinating the video setup.

Saturday morning was the keynote presentation. To keep the talk plus Q&A to an hour, I wasn’t able to include all the images I had hoped to–I would have needed another 10-15 minutes. Thanks to everyone who allowed me to use their sketches. Below is a link to a 21Mb PDF of the presentation. This was done in Keynote, and some image animations won’t be active in the PDF. Also, note that I was not able to use all of the contributed sketches in the Saturday morning program, but I’ve included a full range here:

NCRAL 2011 Presentation Slides

I received feedback that quite a few attendees were energized to try their hand at sketching or get back into it. Some, like Justin Modra, were brimming with ideas to get sketching projects rolling with their local clubs. Many thanks to Don and Katrina DeWitt for inviting me, for being such gracious hosts, and for showing me around Green Bay, the club observatory, and the club’s absolutely incredible telescope collection–I never imagined such an awesome collection of modern and historic telescopes in all sizes and types on display in one location.

It was a great privilege to meet everyone, to get their feedback and perspectives, and to look at all the excellent sketches and fascinating observing journals.