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Kneaded erasers

Celestial sketcher Erika Rix uses kneaded erasers to create the perfect astronomical smudges.
RELATED TOPICS: ASTROSKETCHING
Erika-Rix
When comparing the versatility of erasers, the kneaded variety wins my vote every time. Among its attributes, two stand out above the rest — pliability and tackiness. It has the consistency of putty so that you can mold it to tackle even the smallest areas. And due to its absorbing nature, you can lift lightly applied graphite from the sketch without damaging the paper. This combination lets you perform the gradual fading and precise erasures that are key to creating detailed drawings. Let’s talk about small areas first.

There’s a striking 12th-magnitude planetary nebula, NGC 2022, nestled near the head of Orion the Hunter. You will be able to spot it at 100 power through small- to medium-sized instruments as a grayish 25" disk on an imaginary line from Lambda (λ) Orionis to Betelgeuse (Alpha [α] Orionis). Bumping the magnification to 275x reveals a defined ring structure with a hazy center. Larger scopes show a south-southwest to north-northeast elongation with brightened western and eastern edges. Simply for fun, see if you can spot a kite-like asterism flying just northeast of the disk.

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