From the July 2014 issue

Web Extra: Sketching Moon phases

See how one amateur astronomer drew one lunation and put her observations in motion.
By | Published: July 28, 2014 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Sketch of the Moon
Erika Rix
I love sketching Moon phases and wanted to challenge myself to observe and sketch an entire lunation, weather permitting. I used the second half of January 2014 for practice and slated the month of February for the actual run.

The Virtual Moon Atlas and local weather forecasts helped me plan each day. I used a 4-inch f/9.8 refractor on an LXD75 mount for all the observations with the exception of the first February sketch, where I chose binoculars on a tripod. Magnification was 50x, and I incorporated a 13-percent-transmission filter for the majority of my observations.

My sketch kit consisted of black Strathmore Artagain paper, a white Conte crayon, a white charcoal pencil, a black Derwent charcoal pencil, a black woodless oil pencil, and a blending stump. Once the lunation was complete, I scanned and processed my results in Adobe Photoshop CS6.

Then I created the animation, also in CS6. To represent standard lunar orientation, I flipped and rotated the sketches. I also made gamma correction and exposure adjustments to improve contrast and stray markings, plus I removed my notations.

I hope you enjoy the result!