After some months of scanning the skies I spent some thoughts on how to best document all those thrilling sights visible through my telescope. Photography was out of debate, because all the additional equipment would have overstressed my budget, not to mention the entire hassle involved for making long-term guided exposures. The obvious answer was sketching.

I use a white sheet of paper on which I first draw a 70-mm diameter circle representing the visual field of my eyepiece. After I study the deep sky object at different magnifications, I center it in the field. I first draw the stars that surround the object, using a 0.5-mm technical pen. Drawing the stars first helps a lot, in this way you can be sure the proportions of the sketch are right and the field is correctly oriented.

After I have all the stars plotted in their right positions I begin working on the deep sky object. I first draw its general shape, using a soft pencil. With the basics recorded, I refine the sketch by adding details: brighter parts of nebulae, the glittering of stars resolved in globulars, bright nuclei of galaxies, and so on.

When I take the sketches back indoors, I sometimes have to make minor corrections. When drawing under a dim red light you tend to over-enhance subtle contrast features. When viewed under normal light-levels, you may find the sketch as being to bright and contrasty. Do the corrections quickly, so that your memory is still fresh.

Cr – Collinder (open clusters)

Cr 350
Cr 399

M – Messier (all types of objects except dark nebulae)

M 6
M 29
M 39
M 40
M 42
M 43
M 44
M 63
M 65
M 66
M 75
M 78
M 96
M 103
M 104
M 105

NGC – New General Catalog of Nebulae & Clusters of Stars (all types of objects except dark nebulae)

NGC 129
NGC 1973
NGC 1977
NGC 1981
NGC 2071
NGC 2281
NGC 3628
NGC 4203
NGC 4236
NGC 4494
NGC 4868
NGC 4914
NGC 5198
NGC 5350
NGC 5353
NGC 5354
NGC 6882
NGC 6885
NGC 6939
NGC 6946
NGC 7160
NGC 7662

Pal – Palomar (globular clusters)

Pal 8

Tr – Trumpler (open clusters)

Tr 2

Upgren – Upgren (open clusters)

Upgren 1