Verbal Descriptions vs. Illustrations

  • Ted Aranda
Part of the Patrick Moore’s Practical Astronomy Series book series (PATRICKMOORE)


It might be wondered why I did not accompany at least some of my verbal descriptions with sketches, as many guidebook authors have done. Briefly, the reasons are threefold: (1) To capture adequately in drawings the subtleties of deep-sky objects seen in eyepiece views, for example the huge range of brightness in the light of galaxies, or globular clusters’ fields of outliers, requires more skill than is usually appreciated, even by many who publish their drawings. Given my own limited artistic ability, my descriptions are far more useful than any attempted sketches by me would ever be. (2) There seems to be a tendency among sketchers to draw, in the case of specific objects, the things they remember from photographs of those objects, and, in general, features that they expect to see due to their ubiquity in photographs and in the astronomical literature. This easily leads to the production of caricatures with exaggerated features, reflecting more the observer’s preconceptions than what he or she clearly sees in the eyepiece. (3) Photographs are now readily available for all deep-sky objects (e.g., in MegaStar), and these, being highly detailed and objective, are generally more helpful than sketches for the purpose of comparison with verbal descriptions.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ChicagoUSA

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