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Quark; Fun in the (Bank Holiday) Sun! Monday 28th August 2017


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Wow - a Bank Holiday and sunshine!

The wife was pleased - we'd only just got back from a short break in South Wales, so all the washing was done with the house solar panels kicking out the kWs and now it was all out on the line drying awaiting my super ironing skills!

I invited my observing buddy Andy around too, he came with his own Quark Chromo plus his SkyWatcher Equinox 80 and new to him Manfrotto tripod with video head. I like this a lot – far better than his Altair Astro Sabre mount.

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Ice creams, food and drink, sun and warmth, good company... this solar malarkey is rather good fun!

So, third time out for the Quark and new sketching tools....

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This time the Pentel 0.7mm Graphgear 1000 mechanical pencil was equipped with the new 'Pilot Color Eno Neox' red leads that had come all the way from Japan (via Amazon!) I gave Andy my second Graphgear pencil, but with the *orange Neox leads so he could try sketching (in reverse) as well. I like the mechanical pencil - it's got a nice grip, retains it's balance and you don't need to stop to keep sharpening the point! I like the way this device has an extended metal tube to hold the lead and the way it retracts for safe storage.

*Coloured mechanical pencil leads:

When I started this experiment I chose Pentel red leads first as reviews stated they were less susceptible to snapping than the Staedtler 'Mars Micro range'. They were also reasonably priced, so 'worth a chance' to see if they would 'work' on black paper (that the scanner could pick it up and I could see enough to work with when actually outside). The Pentel's were... OK, but I found them rather hard and 'scratchy'. This did give a nice filamentary effect to prominence sketches, but were quite hard work to get some coverage down onto the paper and took a bit too much processing in Photoshop afterwards to get the look I was after.

The internet search continued... to the Pilot Color Eno Neox - there is a cheaper 'non Neox' version I understand. These get good reviews in artistic circles. Soft but not too brittle, plenty of pigment, easy to rub out...   more expensive!

A purchase on Amazon and a wait for delivery.... I disappointingly found that the orange lead colour appeared more white on the cheaper black (dark grey) paper I was already using with the Pentel leads. In office scanner tests there was still enough of a colour to select in Photoshop for tuning later. Next purchase was a better black card stock. Thicker card, more 'tooth' to pick up the pigment in the leads and darker to aid colour contrast.

'Canson' black card stock (Amazon yet again). It has a decent weight (240g/m2), is much 'blacker' than the cheaper paper I had been using (helps the scan afterwards as well as giving more contrast when sketching), plus takes rubbing out without leaving marks on the surface. I still feel that perhaps the grain is too much, so will continue my search for an even smoother stock.

This though was an improvement, but decided that the red leads would be even better. So another purchase and wait!

Photo: Samsung Galaxy S7 through 32mm TV Plossl

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Same, with iPhone 6

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Well, it still doesn't appear a rich red (like you see in Ha observing) when sketching onto black, but it's easy to see when actually sketching out under the sun. It's also much easier to scan and then tease into what I want the final image to be, without having to push/force things in Photoshop.

The orange leads could even be used for night time sketching as it would be easy to desaturate any remaining colour back to white.

The leads are easy to work - plenty of colour/coverage is easy to put down with minimum effort. I've not had one snap as yet either. They are easy to rub out without damaging the paper, soft so can be manipulated/smudged for subtle effects - would be good for galaxies/nebula.... but being soft, will run down quickly.... they remind me of my old (and favourite) Caran d’Ache pencils from art college.

The other purchase that arrived for this observing session was the photo studio flash umbrella from eBay for £6 that had been mentioned previously. I had intended to fix with a goose neck device, but found that a bulldog clip did the job just as well. This is much lighter than the felt like fabric I've used at night (which gets damp...) It does let a small amount of light through, but being silver backed, doesn't get overly hot. I found that using my sun hat pushes out the loose fabric of the umbrella - giving me room to work/sketch - a 'result'!

Now you see me...

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Now you don't!

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Since the last time out, I've added black felt (Wilkos stuff that I'd used to flock my 10" dob), to my homemade solar shield and just need to face it now with white card to strengthen it. It does warp slightly under it's own weight and probably the heat of the sun, so laminating some white card should help with the strength and reflect some heat, we'll see...

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Another good three hours then under the sun. Some nice proms and a sunspot to entertain us. The Quarks performed superbly yet again. Under the right conditions I think both the new 25mm TV Plossl and the second hand 20mm Pentax XW will be of use from what I saw on Monday.

Sketches from the day - I think I'm homing in finally on my own style. Not quite there yet (think it's the background that's putting me off). My own representation then of what I saw - never going to be exact like a photograph, but a record of the event... with some fiery oomph thrown in!

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Sketches not reversed.

Above prom seen at around 7pm on the GONG image below.

Below sketch of prom seen at roughly 10pm on the GONG image below.

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Copyright: GONG/NSO/AURA/NSF.

 

Clear skies,

Damian

 

Edited by TakMan
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Lovely report and sketches Damian :icon_biggrin:

When it's cold and wet in November you will enjoy looking back at these pics to warm yourself up !

I love the one of you grinning out from under the light shroud - happy astronomer !

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