A Beginners Guide To Reading A Star Map

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For a good stargazing experience, it is important to have the print of a star map. As the name suggests, the map of stars is called the star map. However, the technical usages of it are not limited to finding locations of stars. It’s much more than this.

Before going to its usages and its role in stargazing, let’s know first what a star map is and how to read it.

A beginners guide to star map
A beginners guide to star map

What Is The Star Map?

When you look up at night and see many stars, what do you think? Can you find their location or see them closer? Yes! If you have a star map, you can get it right in front of your eyes.

In simple terms, a star map is a map of the night sky. It shows constellation, location of the stars, galaxies, nebulae, and other space objects. Like navigation of locations on the earth, it’s the navigation for space.

A star map is known by various names. Star chart, sky chart, sky map are synonyms to the term ‘star map.’ However, it is different from the astronomical catalog.

An astronomical chart is designed for a specific study of any object of the space. So, sky lovers should not consider astronomical chart as the sky chart for stargazing.

History Of Star Chart

For years, people used the grid style learning to read the movements and location of stars in the sky. They used to divide the night sky into grids and identify the location of constellation or stars.

Interestingly, the very first or the oldest star chart was drawn approximately 5000 years ago. It was discovered by Indians in Kashmir. It was proved by an ivory mammoth presentation in Germany that people tried to wander around the mysterious sky objects even before 32500 years.

A beginners guide to star map
a beginners guide to star map

How to Read It?

Reading a star chart is not a big deal if you know the date, time, and the current location. Yes, this is all that you need to get the sky chart from your location.

For the beginners, it may be quite daunting or less-interesting. But if you will start from the basics, you will rarely get any hurdle in reading it. Well, astrolabe and plain sphere are used to read star charts. But in lack of that, there are other ways too.

The edges of the sky map are considered as the horizons and the center is the zenith. Like a globe, south resides at the bottom in the chart. It’s better to hold the chart up for the correct correlation of the direction of the sky.

While reading a star chart, it is important to know that as time passes, the position of star moves. It’s not the same that you got on the star chart. So, be focused and calculative for reading it perfectly.

Stargazing is one of the most important reasons that people like to know about star charts. However, there are other technical usages too like finding a particular constellation, galaxy, star, and studying about it.