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Quark; Fun in the Sun! Sunday 2nd July 2017

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Sunday afternoon's weather was better than expected, so I decided to give the Quark its second run out...

Thought it was a good chance to run it from my RavPower LiPoly battery pack that I use to power the Nexus WiFi device and occasionally the iPad running SkySafari (rather than the mains adapter). Useful to know for when mains isn't available when doing outreach and the like. My mate finds that one of his packs turns off periodically - when the Quark has heated up and then stops drawing power... note also new, matching 'red/black' micro USB cable (a single pound from Amazon... all the way from China!)


As well as the 32mm Plossl used before, I'd acquired a S/H 40mm Televue (awaiting the 25mm) off eBay, so it was a chance to try out that as well.


Rather than using white pencil on black paper as previous, I'd been thinking of other methods - so this time I was going to experiment with a new Pentel 0.7mm Graphgear 1000 mechanical pencil with red leads onto white paper.

Pleased to find that the battery doesn't auto switch-off and over the 2 hours of observing didn't even drop a quarter of its power (according to the four little blue lights). The 40mm is useful for when the conditions don't allow for the 32's extra magnification (although the eye relief is way too much - I'm going to get some of them TV eye extenders I think). Actually ordered three today (Monday from The Widescreen Centre), already - another £29 a pop!

It's amazing the difference my black (night time observing), cloth increases the view (contrast), but it is a little too heavy and warm... and not really big enough under the sun to do its thing, so I took a chance and purchased one of those photo studio flash umbrellas from eBay for £6, that was mentioned in a thread a few weeks ago. I have a plan to attach it to the sun shield... or something ! Update: that also arrived today (3rd July), I'm thinking of using a 'gooseneck' like I do with the iPad to hold it in roughly the right place. I think that will work better than on the sun shield or just loose on my head!


Sketches from the day. Inverted in Photoshop. I'm liking the red pencil leads (there is quite a nice luminescence to the sketch now),  although they are slightly hard. I've got some hopefully softer leads on the way and will probably change paper stock as well.



GONG image included for comparison. My sketches above not inverted but you can match up easily the 'second' and 'fifth' sketches to  those on the upper left and right of the GONG image. When I was drawing the 'fifth' one around 5.15, I thought it reminded me of a fishing fly... it still does here!


The Quark behaved admirably yet again and seems a good match to the TSA, showing superb prominence structure and plenty of surface features (despite the lack of them yesterday!)

Clear skies,



Edited by TakMan
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Love the sketches. most original method! I didn't even know you could buy different coloured lead for projector pencils! off for a mooch!

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8 hours ago, Craney said:

Is the sun shade made by Takahashi  ?? ...... ;) 

If it was, I would need plenty of cardboard extension adapters - at least they are considerably cheaper than the Tak metal variety!


7 hours ago, michael.h.f.wilkinson said:

Lovely set-up, and great sketches

Thanks Michael, it's taken long enough to put together. When (if) the tracking unit for the mount ever arrives from the States, we will be properly set up to enjoy sketching and dabble in the odd imaging with the DMK cameras...


5 hours ago, Peter Drew said:

Excellent sketches, I rather like the red on black.   :icon_biggrin:


2 hours ago, JeremyS said:

Great sketches!



1 hour ago, Moonshane said:

Love the sketches. most original method! I didn't even know you could buy different coloured lead for projector pencils! off for a mooch!

Thanks guys! Yes, coloured leads were a surprise to us at work (in house graphics), although we did used to fill up Rotring pens at art college with white gouache, so it shouldn't have come as a huge surprise really!

Staedtler do a red - Mars Micro range - I suppose we should have got them for the 'Mars' in the title, can't remember now why we chose the Pentel version  instead - perhaps softer or more pigment... or that reviews said the Pentel's were less prone to snapping. Still these leads are quite hard, so I need to pop into my local art shop and find a new sketch pad with a paper stock that 'works'.

You can (just) sketch onto black paper with them, which is what I would do with white pencil crayon. The scanner does pick it up, but the effect isn't as good as the method I tried here. It is also more difficult to see when out with the scope than just experimenting indoors!

The new lead I am awaiting is the Pilot Color Eno Neox - there is a cheaper 'non Neox' version, but we decided to try the stronger pigment variety. These are (should be), softer with more pigment and get good reviews in artistic circles. They are also of course more expensive and coming (from Amazon)..... from Japan!

Another clever solution we thought we'd come up with is to use the complimentary colour of red (lead) - we tried blues and greens, but converting in PS still didn't give better results.... just in case you thought of trying that!



Edited by TakMan
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cheers Damian

I'll wait for your expert (compared with mine!) feedback in due course. Read......let you make the expensive mistakes before buying :icon_biggrin:

I have (after a fashion) mastered sketching the sun in Ha to some extent at least in pencil onto decently average paper. The results are quite pleasing although I tend to concentrate of full disk rather than sections. Your sketches have a real vibrance to them though, almost certainly due to your superior skill as an artist!

Here's one of my efforts in pencil (all done at the eyepiece)


and an attempt to 'zoom in' albeit not to your standard


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Nothing wrong with them sketches - I particularly like your representation of the prominences in that lower left image. The softer (traditional graphite) lead has given a nice subtle transition to their intensities and structure.

The Quark excels at high resolution views of course, but it would be nice to see the full face of the sun as well (not sure I can smuggle yet another scope past the wife though for that purpose!) That's a good representation in the upper image, showing the scale of filaments and the like (gives the prominence observations some context, which I can't portray).

The harder coloured leads are naturally more 'scratchy' - which inadvertently gives a good impression of the filamentary structure of prominences - I think you'd call that 'artistic license'! That is 'intensified' by the inversion in PS, that gives that overall 'luminescence' to the final drawings - giving them some fiery oomph (in the process hiding my lost artistic skills - now I spend most of my time in meetings and production... yawn,  rather than anything... 'creative'! We use graphics tablets at work for anything Photoshop related, so it is something of a novelty to use a real pencil now and again ;-)   ).

Edited by TakMan
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