Return to the Moon with Michel Deconinck

This year all eyes will turn to the Moon to mark the 50th Anniversary of the first Moon landing. The Moon is the natural first target for new amateur astronomers, yet all too often as observers become seasoned, the Moon becomes a nuisance that blots the stars from the sky. This week we explore the Moon through the eyes and talented hands of Michel Deconinck. As you will see, there is much to see in the monthly dance between shadow and light on the lunar surface.

The Crater Copernicus © Michel Deconinck. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue 10mm Delos eyepiece (100x) with 4” f/10 Bresser refractor. The 93 km Crater Copernicus was drawn on July 26, 2015, during a waxing gibbous Moon phase. “It is rather difficult to draw, many subtle details emerge such as the arc of small impact craters and its network of lighter lines that are visible over several hundred km. Some landslides are also visible, …”.

Michel Deconinck is an artist in the South of France with a passion for astronomical watercolors. He is very involved with the international astronomical community and his artistic works have been published in magazines, scientific journals, and displayed at conferences and school events. His artistry is augmented with a background in nuclear physics, engineering and astrophysics.

Lunar South Pole at 3 Days © Michel Deconinck. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue 2.5mm Nagler eyepiece (400x) with 4” f/10 Bresser refractor. Lunar south pole on 3-day old Moon (March 12, 2016). “It is a very difficult area that is riddled with tiny craters and requires significant magnification.” Drawn on black paper with pastel pencil.

Michel works with a variety of telescopes including 4″ f/10 and 6″ f/8 refractors, 5″ binoculars, a 12″ f/5 Dob, and a 10″ Mewlon-250CRS corrected Dall-Kirkham reflector mounted in his observatory.

Crater Chain on Crescent Moon © Michel Deconinck. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue 10mm Delos eyepiece (100x) with 4” f/10 Bresser refractor. Crater chain Petavius, Vendelinus and Langrenus along the terminator of a newly crescent Moon (October 3, 2016) south of Mare Crisium (Sea of Crises).

For a larger field on the Moon, with some of my slow scopes, I like the Delos 10mm: it does the job, perfect for contrast and very good quality near the field edge. I like to use it for DSOs or faint comets as well. With my Mewlon-250CRS it is a fantastic eyepiece.

Crater William Herschel © Michel Deconinck. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue 2.5mm Nagler eyepiece (400x) with 4” f/10 Bresser refractor. Crater William Herschel (upper-right with highlighted rim) sketched at first-quarter Moon on October 1, 2014. Crater is near center of Moon and just north of large craters Ptolemaeus, Alphonsus and Arzachel along the lunar terminator.

The Nagler 2.5mm is so good for sketching the moon, mainly because of the compromise between very important magnification and large field, however I use it only if the atmospheric quality is close to perfect.

Lunar Region with Craters Caroline Herschel, Helicon, and Le Verrier © Michel Deconinck. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue 2.5mm Nagler eyepiece (400x) with 4” f/10 Bresser refractor. “I like these virgin lunar areas, there are few impact craters to draw but we are still on the moon.” Sketch of the northwestern corner of Mare Imbrium (Sea of Showers) on October 3, 2014 when the Moon was a waxing gibbous. The rim of Crater Caroline Herschel (13km) shows as a white crescent (lower left) catching the sun rays above the shadowed area on the left. The two largest craters shown (above right) are (left to right) Helicon (25 km) and Le Verrier (20 km). This drawing on black paper and pastels took 45 minutes to complete.

About eyepiece contrast quality: this is a very important feature for sketchers. With all Tele Vue eyepieces the contrast quality is always better than with any other eyepiece I have from different manufacturers.

Vive la différence

Every Tele Vue eyepiece – not just a random sampling – is visually tested at f/4 to ensure you’re getting the full performance and quality we expect of the product. The finest performance requires the finest materials and manufacturing: at Tele Vue we ask “how can we make it better,” rather than “how can we make it cheaper.” Our decades-long relationships with our valued suppliers provides the continued consistency of quality across all our eyepiece lines and throughout their production life. We’re so confident in the stringent manufacturing of our eyepieces that we have no problem recommending matching pairs of the same eyepiece from different vintages for binocular viewing. We hope you’ll agree, like Michel, that the views are worth it. We stand behind our product with a Lifetime Limited Warranty to the original owner on all eyepiece, Barlow, and Powermate products. Read more on the Tele Vue difference on our website advice page (mobile site).

 
The Occultation of Saturn by the Moon © Michel Deconinck. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue 10mm Delos eyepiece (100x) with 4” f/10 Bresser refractor. Saturn is emerging from behind the crescent Moon (less than 4° above horizon) on October 26, 2014. Original sketch done with graphite pencil on white paper with watercolor paint added later.

Michel grew up in Belgium and lived there with his wife Jannik. In 2005 they sold everything to embark on a five-year voyage on their sailboat Aquarellia. Seeing the night sky on clear, moonless nights, sparkling with innumerable stars, left an impression on them. At voyage-end, Michel and Jannik moved from Belgium to the south of France in search of clear astronomical skies. Together they run a bed and breakfast and arts workshops. “I’m now an art teacher and Jannik a scrapbooking team leader,” he tells us, “and now we set-up an original idea: the ‘Bed and Telescope’ to share with our guests the sky and the breakfast.” See the bottom of this post for more information on their endeavors and how to contact them.

Note on the upcoming February 19th Supermoon
Supermoon and Micromoon © Michel Deconinck. All rights reserved. Used by permission. This Supermoon versus Micromoon is a simulated comparison from a pastel sketch made during the perigee full Moon of 2015 August 29th. Sketch took more than two-hours using 4” f/10 Bresser refractor.
The Moon will turn full on February 19th, just 6-hours after perigee — the closest point in its orbit. Full Moons that occur around perigee have lately been referred to as “Supermoons.” This particular Supermoon is closer than any other this year. Contrast this with the upcoming September 14th full Moon that happen 15-hours after apogee – the furthest point in its orbit. The September full Moon will be a “Micromoon.” If you image each of these Moons with the same equipment, a side-by-side comparison will show a clear size difference of 14% between the Supermoon and Micromoon. Use the same exposure setting (and barring clouds) and you’ll note that the Supermoon is also much brighter. See or Solar and Lunar Phenomena blog post for more info.

 
More Info on Michel and Jannik from their website
More Info
 

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