March 9, 2013

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drawing by Phil Morgan, U.K.

Every time before I publish a drawing I argue with myself about it. Drawings such as Phil's classic depiction of Lassell above have a romantic, even avocative appeal, tying us to the only effective way before about 20-30 years ago to capture lunar details. But now even relatively small telescopes can capture CCD images that show more detail, more accurately than the best drawings. Artists, and that is what astronomy sketchers are, select what to show and perhaps without even thinking about it leave out features that aren't critical to the story they are telling with pencil, pen and ink. An image of the Lassell area with similar illumination (and sadly with a defect of display that I haven't been able to fix) provides a more trustworthy documentation. The text I write each night for LPODs tries to explain the geologic processes displayed in an image but I wouldn't trust a drawing enough to base an interpretation on it. The fine art world faced a similar problem 100 years ago. Photography could then capture any scene more precisely than any drawing. Perhaps that was one reason why cubism and other interpretive artistic styles developed. But painting persisted and today's art galleries are far more full of paintings than of photographs. Paintings, and astronomical sketches, provide a unique human perspective of a piece of the world, or in this case another world. As an explainer of science I want a depiction of a scene that hasn't been filtered through another brain, another perception. But when I use a drawing for an LPOD I am like a visitor to an art gallery, interested, perhaps even fascinated, by how another person perceives the world.

Chuck Wood

Technical Details
Feb 18, 2013, 18:20 to 18:45 UT. 305 Newtonian x 400.

Related Links
Rükl plate 54
21st Century Atlas chart 16.

Yesterday's LPOD: 50 Year Uncertainty

Tomorrow's LPOD: Geo Textbook


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