Astro ImageEyepiece

Sketching the Universe!

When sketching at the eyepiece, one has to be cognizant of the relative distances between the stars, their brightness, and asterisms they form. For example, in Martijn Straub’s Omega Centauri sketch description, there is mention of the “oval” structure with dark “pockets” and stars in a “trapezoid shape.” Thus the beauty of sketching at the eyepiece is that it leads to a more intimate knowledge of the object and the star field around and within it.

Fish Head Nebula
For this next image, Richard Orr made great use of a PVS-14 Night Vision monocular on an a 67mm eyepiece (modified Tele Vue 55mm Plössl) with Hydrogen-Alpha filter. Observing through a modest 110mm aperture refractor, Richard created a detailed sketch of the Fish Head Nebula and surrounding objects that normally would have required a big Dobsonian to reveal. Along with the The Fish Head (NGC 896), the sketch includes the Heart Nebula (IC 1805), an Emission Nebula (IC 1795) and an Open Cluster (Mel 15) embedded in the Heart Nebula.

Fishhead Nebula Region by flickr user Richard Orr. All rights reserved. Used by permission. A 110mm refractor was used with a Tele Vue 55mm Plössl converted to 67mm with Tele Vue’s ECL-67.0 converter. A TNVC Gen 3 Un-Filmed White Phosphor PVS-14 was attached to the Plössl using Tele Vue’s TNV-1401 Eyepiece Adapter. A 6nm Hydrogen-Alpha filter took advantage of the PVS-14’s sensitivity to that wavelength to increased contrast.

The Fish Head is actually a bright knot in the western part of the Heart Nebula: part of a complex of star forming regions along the edge of a large molecular cloud over 6,000 light-years away, The “fish head” shape arises from a combination of thick obscuring clouds and ionized, glowing gas – mostly hydrogen – energized by young stars forming within the cloud. A PVS-14 night vision monocular attached to Tele Vue’s 55mm Plössl with 67mm converter gives you the maximum possible true field a telescope with 2″ eyepiece holder can produce. This allowed Richard a 3.5° field of view for this sketch.

Omega Centauri
Martijn observed Omega Centauri (NGC 5139) from Namibia and noted the following:

It’s incredibly large and bright, but not really denser towards the core; the condensation is most evenly spread throughout the whole globe, only fractionally brighter in the middle. The shape is definitely oval and defined quite well near the edges. In the center I noticed two darker pockets, like eyes, with in between them a thin line of tiny stars. Up and right within the cluster a small star chain could be seen, like a short arm. A similar line was seen down and left, but outside of the cluster. On the left side of the core, a few stars in a trapezoid shape shone just a tad brighter.

The scope used was a 16″ f/4.5 Newtonian with Tele Vue 31mm Nagler Type-5 eyepiece (58x) in order to “sketch this one at the lowest magnification, to seemingly shrink the cluster to somewhat acceptable proportions”.

Omega Centauri from by Martijn Straub. All rights reserved. Sketched with a 16″ f/4.5 Dieter Martini Newtonian at 58x with Tele Vue 31mm Nagler Type-5 eyepiece from Rooisand Desert Ranch, Chausib, Namibia.

The Omega Centauri (also NGC 5139, or Caldwell 80) globular cluster is the most massive in our Milky Way galaxy with 10-million stars. At only 16,000 light-years distant, it is one of the closest known globulars. These facts make this one of the most visually striking targets in the night sky. In order to keep the size of the globular small in the field of view of a telescope with over 1,800mm focal length, the wide field afforded by the Nagler 31mm Type-5 was put to good use. It’s 19mm of eye-relief must have made it a comfortable eyepiece to use for the sketching process.

Tarantula Nebula
David Daelman traveled to the southern hemisphere to collect this denizen of the southern skies: the Tarantula Nebula (NGC 2070). Through a 12″ f/4.8 Newtonian and Delos 8mm (180x) eyepiece the sketch was made with the assistance of an OIII filter. For this effort, he was the June 2022 CloudyNights Sketch Contest Winner!

NGC 2070 – The Tarantula Nebula (#372) by flickr user David Daelman. All rights reserved. Used by permission. A 12″ f/4.8 Newtonian with 8mm Delos (180x) with OIII filter was used to create a raw sketch with pencil on white paper. The final sketch was done on charcoal and pencil on white paper. This was digitized, inverted and adjustments made to levels and stars. Conditions (5 = best): Seeing: 4 Transparency: 5 with the target “quite low”. Sketched on 29 May 2022 and 02 June 2022 from Rooisand Desert Ranch, Chausib, Namibia.

Located in the neighboring Large Magellanic Cloud ― a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way ― the Tarantula Nebula (also cataloged as 30 Doradus) ─ is a large cloud of hydrogen gas and dust where star formation continues to take place. In fact, the rate of star formation is the highest of any region in our Local Group of galaxies. We can see it because the new stars in the Tarantula emit ultra-violet photons that energizes the surrounding hydrogen to glow. In order to sketch the “heart” of the nebula at high power without loss of field, a Delos 8mm eyepiece was used in the 1,460mm focal length scope to view the target at 180x with a 0.4° field of view.

Saturn and Moons
On first glance, we truly thought this image by Richard Orr was a photograph! It turned out to be a sketch through a 155mm refractor, 1.7x Barlow and several Delos eyepieces and colored filters.

Saturn with Moons on July 11, 2022 by flickr user Richard Orr. All rights reserved. Used by permission. A 155mm refractor with 1.7x Barlow and a set of Tele Vue Delos (12mm, 8mm, and 6mm) eyepieces along with Blue #80A and Green #58 filters to increase contrast were used to produce this photo-realistic sketch.

The 20mm eye-relief afforded by the Delos line makes viewing comfortable at the high, planetary powers used for this sketch. The 72° apparent field of the Delos, even at the approximately 1,850mm focal length of the observing setup, provided an almost ¼° field of view at the 309x observation with the Delos 6mm.

NGC 5286 (Globular Cluster)
David tells us that this cluster in the southern constellation Centaurus is “large, bright, rich and accompanied by a very bright orange star, M Centauri. Two little star chains are seen on the disk, the globular itself remains unresolved.”

NGC 5286 (#390) by flickr user David Daelman. All rights reserved. Used by permission. This globular in Centaurus was observed though a 16″ f/4.5 Dieter Martini Newtonian with 8mm Delos (225x) to produce the resulting sketch. Conditions (5 = best): Seeing: 3, Transparency: 4, SQM: 21.31. Sketched on 01 June 2022 Rooisand Desert Ranch, Chausib, Namibia.

This cluster is easy to locate as the star M Centauri (magnitude 4.6) is only 4-arc-minutes away. David tells us that his “standard eyepiece set is the entire Delos series, and the Paracorr Type 2.”

Meet the Tele Vue Eyepieces!
With Tele Vue’s wide range of focal lengths and designs, you’re sure to find the right eyepieces for your scope and target object.

3x Barlow Inspection with Tom
Eyepiece inspection.

Note on Eyepiece Inspection
Our eyepiece inspectors continue to be very busy! The inspection process is more involved than just checking to see if it comes to focus. For every eyepiece, inspection begins with the cosmetic appearance of the lenses and metalwork. Uniformity of anodizing, chrome plating, and paint applications on the barrels is assessed. The eyepiece is then checked for any naked-eye visible coating or glass defects. The next step is the optical evaluation. Each eyepiece is placed in our patented 5″ f/4 flat-field Multi-Purpose Telescope (MPT) test refractor. The variable iris on the MPT is used to inspect for internal cleanliness at f/16 and for any optical abnormalities at f/4. Only after the inspector is satisfied that the product meets our cosmetic and optical standards are eyepieces packaged for shipping.

Space Walk Eyepieces
For observing with undriven scopes, we highly recommend wide apparent field of view eyepieces such as 82° Nagler and 100° Ethos / 110° Ethos-SX due to the larger true fields they deliver over narrower apparent field eyepieces of the same focal length. Their extreme field sharpness allows you to place a celestial object at one edge of the field and let it drift across to the other before having to reposition your scope! While this is a particular advantage at higher magnifications, having a large true field combined with the darker sky background produced by a smaller exit pupil size (The Majesty Factor) makes this eyepiece class ideal for galaxy hunting!

Long Eye Relief
If you’re more comfortable with long eye relief while lingering at the eyepiece (especially for eyeglass wearers), the 31mm Nagler and 22mm Nagler have a generous 19mm of eye relief and provide wide true-field views of the heavens. Great eye relief at a more economical price is found in the long focal length members of the 68° Panoptic series (27mm, 35mm, and 41mm Panoptic). Our Tele Vue Plössls have long eye relief in the longer focal lengths (25mm, 32mm, 40mm and 55mm Plössl). Our widest field eyepieces, the Ethos and Ethos SX, have a comfortable 15mm of eye relief in all focal lengths and are great for eyeglass wearers.

Both our 72° Delos or 62° DeLite eyepiece series are the eyeglass champs with a generous 20 mm of eye relief in all focal lengths. In addition to producing razor-sharp images in even the fastest telescopes, both series feature adjustable height and locking eye-guards to keep surrounding light from degrading the naturally high contrast these eyepieces produce.

Widest Possible True Field
The Tele Vue 32mm & 40mm Plössls and 24mm Panoptic eyepieces allow you to experience the largest true field in 1¼” visual backs and the 55mm Plössl and 41mm Panoptic do the same for 2″ focusers. The 31mm Nagler and 21mm Ethos eyepieces can be used to view at higher powers in 2″ visual backs, yielding darker sky backgrounds, but with only slightly smaller true fields of view than the 2″ Plössl or Panoptic eyepieces mentioned above.

Planetary Zoom
No need to keep swapping eyepieces to find the highest usable power and missing those fleeting moments of steady air! Our Tele Vue Nagler 3-6-mm Planetary Zoom (mobile site) is excellent for teasing out the fullest possible observing detail on planetary bodies in short to medium focal length scopes. It was designed for full-field sharpness for any speed telescope, high contrast and transmission for natural color rendition, low scatter, and comfortable eye relief. It is parfocal through the zoom range and has both a constant 10mm of eye-relief and 50° apparent field of view.

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Orion Nebula
“Staggering wispy details throughout entire field of view!” is how Tom Corstjens describes the sketch of the Orion Nebula below.

The Orion Nebula by twitter user Tom Corstjens. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Sketched with Alkaid 16″ f/4.2 using Tele Vue 17.3mm Delos (115x) eyepiece with Tele Vue Paracorr coma corrector. Composed over three consecutive nights with 10 hours observing, with chilly wind at -5°C, in rural Bortle 3 clear and dark (limiting magnitude 6.5) skies. Conditions (1 = best): Seeing: 5 and Transparency: 1.

The Orion Nebula (also M42 or NGC 1976) is the most easily visible and closest region of massive star formation to our planet. Scientists believe there are 700 stars at various stages of evolution within the nebulosity. This means there are plenty of hot, giant, young stars to pump-up the electrons in the cloud of hydrogen gas in the nebula and cause them to emit light. The richly detailed wisps and folds in the sketch are shaped by shock waves from strong stellar winds from these young stars. The four stars at the heart of the nebula in the sketch are the most visible stars of the Trapezium cluster. The nebulosity at the top of the image is known as M43. It is physically part of M42 but appears separate because of a dark lane of dust slashing through the this glowing star forming region. This sprawling object is over a degree across. The 17.3mm Delos eyepiece used in the drawing gave a field of view of over 0.6° at the medium-high power required to tease out the details in the object. This was possible while still allowing for 20mm of eye-relief.

Comet Leonard Passing M3 (Globular Cluster)
Messier 3, a globular cluster in Canes Venatici, is of note for being the first Messier object discovered by the catalog compiler Charles Messier. Considered one of the finest globulars in the northern hemisphere after M13, Comet Leonard passed within arc-minutes of this object on December 3, 2021. Eric Klaszus memorialized this event in the following sketch. For the effort, this image was a December 2021 CloudyNights Sketch Contest Winner!

Comet Leonard Passing M3 by CloudyNights user Eric Klaszus. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Mosaic wide field sketch on white paper with graphite pencils, inverted in Photoshop. Sketched with 17.5″ f/5 in 4 fields using Tele Vue Panoptic 35mm at -8C on December 3, 2021 at 05:25 AM MST from Alberta, Canada.

On this scope, the Panoptic 35mm provided 73x with an almost 0.9° true field and 6mm exit pupil while providing 24mm of eye-relief.

Eta Carinae Nebula
Martijn Straub observed and sketched the famous Eta Carinae Nebula from Namibia and it left quite an impression. We quote from his blog below.

It’s hard to describe what it does to a person, viewing this nebula complex for the first time. Imagine that you (as a northerner) have studied over a thousand objects for many years. And that only then you view the Orion Nebula for the first time… . That’s about how if felt when I observed this area on the first night through the 16″, it was a whole new experience. The HII area is extremely large and does not fit in the field of view, not even with the Nagler 31mm applied. The heart of the area lies with the star to which the complex owes its name. It’s more or less at the top of the brightest part that sticks to the bottom left, like a knife. Just left of this star a remarkable dark zone can be seen as an “8”; the famous Keyhole Nebula. The edge of this brightest part is so strongly defined, that the dark area beside it looks like a black canyon. Only at the top of this, where the dark lane makes an almost 90 degree bend, some patches of nebulosity are noted. On the opposite of the dark zone an area of nebulosity is observed that stretches beyond the field of view. It’s impossible to draw it perfectly accurate, but I tried to pay attention to the differences in brightness and spots where it is darker. On the first evening of the sketch I only drew the (many) stars. This took a long time because I wanted to be very accurate. On the second evening I continued with the nebula, now thankful for a paper full of stars that I could use as anchor points. When I finished the sketch I had a close up look at Eta Car (the star). It’s in the final phase of its life cycle and therefore a planetary to-be, the so called “Homunculus Nebula“. The two extensions can be seen, different in size and shape. Nice!

This is a phenomenal piece of heaven around Eta Carinae. It left a deep impression on me that I won’t forget easily… This is definitely in my top-5 of most beautiful objects, perhaps even as the #1.

Eta Carinae Nebula from by Martijn Straub. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Sketched with a 16″ f/4.5 Dieter Martini Newtonian at 58x with Tele Vue 31mm Nagler Type-5 eyepiece and OIII filter from Rooisand Desert Ranch, Chausib, Namibia on 31 May 2022.

Also known as the Great Carinae Nebula (NGC 3372) it is located in the southern sky constellation of Carina (ship’s keel). The shape of the nebula is sculpted by shockwaves and radiation pressure from many supernova explosions while radiation has ionized regions in the nebula and caused them to glow. Dark shapes entwined in the nebula are remnants of clouds of cool gas and dust from which the first giant stars in the nebula were born. The most energetic star in the complex, double-star Eta Carinae, is thought to be on the verge of a supernova explosion.

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