When I started deep sky observing, our deep sky director advised that I only sketch and describe what I see. He was not interested in how Google sees an object. The equipment used, sky conditions, limiting mag, date of observation and your own observing capabilities came into account and determined whether your obs would earn a certificate come end of term. This was the best advise ever. I started seeing all kinds of patterns in the sky!
I do research on objects after I’ve reduced my logs. Sketching and writing by faint red light does not always produce an artwork.
My submissions were brutally honest. When I observed NGC 3293 for the first time, I had no idea that I was observing the famous Gem Cluster (so christened by the Australian astronomer Henry Chamberlain Russell) I saw this cluster as a hubbly-bubbly pipe ( it was very fashionable to smoke those in student pubs at the time – no, my student days were long gone but I thought the designs were quite pretty!) I did not even know that I needed real dark skies to observe this specific cluster properly.
When my 12″ Dob came along, I decided to follow up on all my objects previously observed through an 8″ Dob. Most of my observations have been done from my holiday home in Betty’s Bay where we have no street lights and it is nice and dark.
My obsevation of NGC 3293 caused great excitement. Our deep sky director contacted me. According to my sketch there was nebulosity surrounding the cluster. Oh dear what had I done wrong now? Well, I sketched it at the eyepiece. I sketched what I saw at the time, so there must have been something there. Yeah! – another certificate, a gift book and a mention on page 63 of Perlen Des Sudhimmels. “Möglicherweise angeregt durch diesen nebligen Hintergrund meinte die südafrikanische Beobachterin Carol Botha die Umrisse einer Wasserpfeife in der Anordnung der sterne des Haufens zu erkennen”
I immediately bought an English – German dictionary!
A year later and with the English translation of the book to Pearls of the Southern Skies, pages 63, 101, 133 were regularly shoved under the noses of those who hinted at my mere ‘housewife’ status!
Now I’ve started a new chapter on Slooh. My skies are even darker, ‘my’ telescopes bigger and my logs are being updated with beautiful images.