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 31, M 32, M 110
M 81, M 82