How To Use A Star Map

how to learn stargazing

Travel through the stars thanks to star maps, also called star charts or sky maps.

Anatomy of a Star Map

star map

Star map in the northern hemisphere, in October – Credits :

1) Compass

Use a compass to orient your star map to the night sky.

2) The celestial poles

The night sky seems to revolve around these poles. In the northern hemisphere, the celestial pole is located near Polaris. In the southern hemisphere, it is located in the constellation Octans.

3) Ecliptic

The Sun, the Moon and the planets are always near this line.

4) Clusters

Most stars are found within constellations or within patterns called asterisms.

How to use a Star Map

  1. Orient the star map
  2. Hold the star map over your head facing south in the Northern Hemisphere, facing north in the Southern Hemisphere. Orient the star map with the cardinal points and use a red light to read it.

  3. Scan the sky
  4. Several nights of observation will allow you to know the constellations well. To locate the planets, practice finding the ecliptic plane (also called the plane of the ecliptic).

  5. Explore the sky from star to star
  6. Have fun going from star to star to find other celestial objects. Locate a bright star and use it as a reference to locate less bright celestial objects.