Finding Accurate Astronomy Charts Online

Find al kinds of stars and constellations on a star chart.
Find al kinds of stars and constellations on a star chart. | Source

By Joan Whetzel

Anyone just getting started in stargazing, trying to find one’s way around the constellations and other objects in space can seem quite daunting. Not to fear, though. There are space maps available that are easy to use for anyone from beginner to professional astronomer. Ther are of couse star maps in paper and book formats, but the online versions are great, and constantly updated with new findings.

What Are Astronomy Charts?

Astronomy charts are a sort of road map to the placement of stars in the night sky. There are different star charts showing the stars and galaxies visible in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. There are also star charts that change with the seasons of the year, following the movement of the constellatons across the sky. Star charts have been around for centuries, beginning with sailors and other long distance overland voyages that used the stars to navigate by.

Reading and Using Astronomy Charts

To make use of astronomy charts, you need to figure out which direction you are facing – with the use of a compass - so that you can figure out which way to hold the map. When using paper or book star charts, lay down on your back looking up at the sky, so that your chin is facing south and the top of your head faces north. Hold the star chart up toward the sky with the map directions matching that of your body. Slowly, one by one, start matching the constellations on the chart with those you see in the sky. A word of warning here. Star charts differ from road maps and atlases in one important way. Maps of the earth have North up and South down, the same as astronomy charts. But what’s different is that West and East are reversed on star charts.

Finding Accurate Astronomy Charts Online

The internet offers many sites with online astronomy charts. A little investigation will help you find a chart that you can understand and navigate easily. Check out this list.

Sky View Café

http://www.skyviewcafe.com/skyview.php

NASA

www.nasa.gov

Astronomy

www.astronomy.org

Astronomy Magazine

http://www.astronomy.com/

Sky Maps

http://www.skymaps.com/


Cloudy Nights

http://www.cloudynights.com/item.php?item_id=1052

Stellarium Planetarium Software

http://www.stellarium.org/

Skywatching

http://www.space.com/skywatching/

Resources

Wikipedia. Star Chart.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_chart

Cool Scopes. Astronomy Star Charts.

http://www.coolscopes.com/astronomystarcharts.html

Telescopes for Amateur Astronomers. Astronomy Chart.

http://www.telescopes-for-amateur-astronomers.com/astronomy-chart.html

Texas Astronomical Society. Star Charts for Beginners.

http://www.texasastro.org/star_charts.php

Astronomy. How to Use a Star Chart.

http://www.astronomy.com/en/sitecore/content/Home/News-Observing/Intro%20Sky/Get%20to%20Know%20the%20Night%20Sky/2010/10/How%20to%20use%20a%20star%20chart.aspx

Look at Stars. How to Read a Star Chart.

http://www.lookatstars.com/how-to-read-a-star-chart/

How to Use Telescopes : Using Star Charts With Telescopes .

How to Use a Star Chart

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