Sometimes you have to ignore conventional wisdom.
Never use your scope out of a window.
Leave your scope to cool.
Sketch the moon when it’s dark for good contrast.
Well that is all well and good but we have just had the wettest April in 100 years.
The last date in my sketch book is 29th March.
So this evening it was time for some convention breaking. A small window of opportunity in the endless cloud has opened up. Rain is forecast and the horizon looks menacing.
It might be almost two hours until sunset but the moon is up and with my daughter in bed and wife out I am free to launch a guerilla raid on the evening sky.
So I’m sitting in my loft at 7pm, having done a blind but accurate three star alignment and I am looking at Mars in a blue sunlit sky.
A perfect pink dot that looks like a balloon floating in our sunlit upper atmosphere.
Break out the water colours.
Then onto the moon for a sketch of Crater Fontenelle. A creak of a long shut spine as I open my observation note book and then graphite dust starts to fly, I’m lost in the silence as I wander amongst the shadows 300,000 miles away.
Eclipsed! An enforced tea break as the open window frame passes in front of the moon.
My red torch comes on filling the loft in an eerie glow that puzzles the neighbours. The contrast inproves and the final details fall into place.
Then as the haze and cloud build I turn to Saturn. The seeing is deteriorating by the minute but nothing diminishes the beauty of it. A quick sketch, a splash of water colour and then its all over.
You have to get your astronomy when and where you can sometimes.