by Gerhard Niklasch
I sketch most everything I look at into my logbook, in the crudest manner, using a ballpoint pen (I just can't stand pencils and I'm a messy klutz when it comes to ink). Mostly because it forces me to pay attention to detail, to geometric arrangements, to brightness relationships, and because it helps to anchor things in my memory. I also often draw little finder charts by hand, for the same reason, based on (small parts of) Uranometria charts, Simbad plots and other sources - there's nothing like forcing the information to go through my finger muscles for memorizing it!
Occasionally, I take a little more time to draw a prettily illuminated lunar landscape or a galactic cluster or nebula or even another galaxy. I regularly use Lucian Kemble's trick of beginning with a defocused view to place the brightest stars, and focusing later to fill in detail.
Occasionally, I feel like showing off some of my stuff, and here's where you can see the results. The PNG image files are not created from scans (as I said, my original sketches are extremely crude). They were re-drawn mouse-sweep by mouse-sweep, click by click, with XPaint. They intentionally use a minimal palette of just a few shades of gray, with the odd color thrown in for labels or to make some other point. This keeps the files extremely small and focused on the essentials.
Currently, I own a pair of 11×80 Danubia binoculars, and an 8" f/5 Antares Sky-Watcher Newtonian (on a Dobsonian mount).
Eyepieces range from the enormous Kokusai Kohki Wide Scan Type II (30mm, 2") - well, not quite as enormous as Uncle Al's Big One! - through 19mm TeleVue Panoptic, 8.8mm and 6.7mm and 4.7mm Meade Series 4000 Ultra Wide Angle, the beautiful Takahashi LE 7.5 and 5mm, to a TeleVue Radian 4mm. Also starring: an incredible Pentax SMC Orthoscopic 12mm, and Vixen 9mm and 6mm Orthos (of the old 0.965" barreled type). Also, a TeleVue Powermate 2.5×, and quite a few other assorted gadgets. One recent (2003) addition is the fantastic Nagler Zoom.