British Astronomical Association
Supporting amateur astronomers since 1890

Secondary menu

Main menu

BAA Community Member Pages Alan Thomas
Image search

Moon drawing May 1960


Expand image

About this observation
Alan B Thomas
Time of observation
07/05/2020 - 09:33
The Moon
Observing location
Wilmslow, Cheshire
Ottway 'Orion' 4" Newtonian
Like This Image

This is my first drawing of the Moon, made on May 7 1960 at the eyepiece of my first 'proper' telescope when I was twelve years old. I was fortunate in that our house had a south-facing garden that opened out onto a river valley so I enjoyed a lot of dark sky. I built a brick pier with four bolts protruding from the top to hold the base of the telescope steady. I remember thinking that a big problem with drawing was that you couldn't see what you were doing without destroying your night vision, let alone how you could hold the paper, pencil and a torch at the same time. Where was the third hand? I'm not at all sure how I managed to produce this!

It was a time of massive boyish enthusiam and the Moon was so big and easy to find that I found it hugely exciting to be doing Astronomy. I felt that I had joined a band of fellow star-gazers, with Patrick Moore as our Chief, rallying the troops each month via The Sky At Night.

Happy days!

P.S. The 31" refers to the focal length not the aperture! - which was 4".


w leatherbarrow's picture

That takes me back, Alan! I also started with an Ottawa Orion 4-inch Newtonian kit.


alanbthomas's picture

Hi Bill. Then you are the only other person I know of who had that telescope (I posted a picture of mine on my page earlier). I got it as a Christmas present in 1959. My Father helped me build it (or the other way round) and by some amazing good fortune I still have it. What happened to yours?

It was primitive by today's standards - slide tube focussing, microscope eyepieces, open 'tube' - but it worked. And it made me feel that I was part of this bigger movement. Happy and exciting times for anyone interested in the sky and space!


Andy Wilson's picture

Thanks for sharing Alan. I find that with the activity of drawing you often see more than when imaging. Though modern technology can produce amazing detailed images, and I have done this and taken great pleasure in the results, in the process of drawing the mind looks at each detail to reproduce it on paper.

I have a little red light I can clip onto a paper pad. Though I still find it hard to see what I am doing and will notice stray lines and dots when I get the drawing under bright indoor lighting.


alanbthomas's picture

Thanks Andy. I was pretty much on my own when I started out so I had to make it up as I went along. My father, who had absolutely no interest in astronomy, signed me up to The Manchester Astronomical Society in about 1961. He used to take me to meetings in the Godlee Observatory and sat there while I listened to whatever the talk was. I also persuaded him to get me a subscription to Sky & Telescope. How lucky I was! My membership of MAS must have lapsed when I discovered rock'n roll!

I must confess that I haven't done much drawing since I was a boy. But I still like the immediacy of visual observation with as little between me and the object as possible. With all due respect to the superb imagers, I can seldom relate to those multi-stacked images in the way I can to an unprocessed picture, a drawing or that eyepiece view.

I wrote to Patrick M in February 1961. Typically he replied at length and sent me a number of his articles. He suggested I join the Junior Astronomical Society based at 24 Blake Road, Croydon, Surrey. I never did. But now I am in the BAA!

Copyright of all images and other observations submitted to the BAA remains with the owner of the work. Reproduction of the work by third-parties is expressly forbidden without the consent of the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the webmaster.