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The Black Triangle of Quercy - some Messier sketches



Three Weeks in the Wilderness

Between the 9th to the 22nd of August, I was fortunate to spend almost three weeks camping with my girlfriend in the natural park of Causses du Quercy, France. It is a beautiful area of hidden caves, prehistoric artwork, gorgeous villages, mellow rivers, cool breezes and summer sun, delicious wine, cheese and paté and some of the most precious skies in Europe.



I was fortunate enough to take along my 10" Moonshane and head out with my girlfriend to an area known as The Black Triangle. Here, at night, the only light you see is that from the stars and from the Moon.

Nature has given us two joys to accompany us through life: the playfulness and cheer of day and the solemn and silent night. In the first of these geniuses we visited the area; strolled rustic villages, dined on five course meals, had siestas by slow rivers and took trips into the underworld, a torch lit boat ride along underground rivers filled with ancient stalactites and stalacmites, another to visit prehistoric artwork and witness mankind's lasting steps into art and creation.

At night, armed with pencils, blending stub and sketchbook I headed out into the darkness, into that night sky bent gently over my head revealing to me its infinity of tangled curls and wonder.

Each night was a different voyage, some predominatly amongst doubles, others with NGCs, galaxies, nebulae and clusters. Many hours were spent just sitting back, ignoring the telescope and drinking in the slendour. It is impossible to include everything, sketching is an exhausting and concentrated effort and at best I could manage an average of about two a night. Although these sketches cannot do justice to nature's sublimity, I hope they give a hint of what was witnessed.

Here, then, I include the sketches I made of just some of Messier objects viewed and a particular NGC.

M 2


M 8


M 11


M 13


M 15


M 16


M 17


M 20


M 21


M 22


M 23


M 24


M 26


M 27


M 28


M 31, M 32, M 110


M 33


M 34


M 45


M 52


M 57


M 72


M 73


M 74


M 75


M 76


M 81, M 82


M 92


M 101


NGC 6960


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These are amazing. You are truly gifted, my friend, both literally and artisically. A real pleasure viewing all of these sketches and it makes me think if that is how good the views are in a dark sky with a 10" what on earth would I see in my 14".

I just might have to make some plans of my own.

Thanks once again for putting these together, you did an amazing job.

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some stunning sketches , really shows the power of dark skies and aperture.

thanks for sharing.

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Absolutely wonderful sketches, Rob. Glad you were able to take the moonshane on your holidays! I really can't add anything more than Stargazer_oo already said! Look forward to seeing more when you get another chance to get out!

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Thank you all for you kind words and thoughts. I am truly touched by your guys' spirit and willingness to animate and encourage others. I am indeed lucky to have found folk like you. Thank you again. Thank you all for being so thoughtful.

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Sounds like a great holiday and as usual your drawings are a delight to view. Recently took some of my grandchildren to a cave in Derbyshire to see their first stalactites and stalagmites. They were very impressed!

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Thank you, Hawksmoor. I bet your grandchildren loved the experience. Like Dante's best there is something fascinating about entering deep into the underworld.

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come back for a second look through your pics Qualia. such is the beauty of them. magic sir , keep em coming.

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Beautiful, amazing work - this is how it must have been before people used photographic means of recording what they saw through telescopes.

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Beautiful, we're heading off for 2 weeks on north Skye. I'm taking a 10 " Lightbridge and the Herschel atlas. Hope that I come back with half the joy that you have !


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Thank you for the kind comments. I hope you have a great time and the best of weather, Cotterless. And to Arrayschism, aye - long live eighteenth/nineteenth century stargazing :-) 

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looks and sounds like you had a great time, have to say them  sketches are spot on and really make me want to go out and have a go my self...  well done

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I'm absolutely gob smacked that someone could take the time to do that. Thank you very much for sharing them.

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It shames me to say that your sketches are a better representation than most of my images. Stunning artwork. Looks like you and your girlfriend had an amazing time.

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M87 in Virgo might be worth a look. Incidentally there is a more natural and ancient delineation of Virgo and Mars is fast approaching the most significant star in that pattern!

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You have talent, please do stop I am addicted to your blog. I wish I could take pictures as well as you draw.

You have inspired me to take my family on holiday somewhere dark so that I can share the sky with them.

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