Star Chart: Everything You Need To Know And Learn


A star chart or star map is a map of the sky divided into grids by astronomers. They are used to locate celestial bodies such as stars and constellations in the night sky. Humans have used them for navigation for a very long time. Modern versions of star maps are digitized and can map the visible night sky in real-time. Thanks to technological advancements, we can view the visible night sky from the comfort of our homes. Now, we can access star maps through various websites and apps on our mobile devices.

Historical Importance And Early Depictions

During the early times, humans did not have any sophisticated instruments for navigation. Therefore, they started using the night sky to find their way. The North Star or the Pole star is the most famous in this respect. Travelers and sailors used it because it directly pointed towards the North. It helped them find directions and orient themselves.

Artisans carved the oldest known star chart by ivory. Early people of Asia drew it on the tusk of a Mammoth. The relic is said to be about 32,500 years old and has a carving resembling a constellation.

Chinese Star Maps

The oldest graphical star map made by the Chinese is a decorated lacquer box. Archaeologists excavated it from the 5th Century BC Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng. This Chinese map showed the positions of constellations visible in the Chinese night sky. However, it does not show any individual stars.

Everything You Need To Know About Star Charts
Star Chart: Everything You Need To Know And Learn

The Farnese Atlas

The Farnese Atlas is a Greek statue of the Greek Titan Atlas holding a sphere on his shoulder. It is the most famous star map and is of much historical significance. This sphere represents ancient Greek constellations and has grid circles to determine the coordinate positions of stars.

How To Navigate Using Star Maps

Star maps make perfect sense when held above the head. Start with facing South with the “S” on the map pointing in the South too. In this case, the East will lie to your left and West to your right. Brighter stars on the map appear as bigger circles, whereas dim ones appear as points. Astronomers measure star brightness on a magnitude scale. The fainter a celestial body, the higher its magnitude and vice versa. Some star chart also has a line curving from the Southeast to the Northwest. It represents the path of the Sun across the sky and is known as the ecliptic line. It comes in handy as most of the solar system’s planets lie near it.

Star Chart: Everything You Need To Know And Learn
Star Chart: Everything You Need To Know And Learn

So, you must have learned a lot about the star chart by now. They surely are fascinating and can satiate the need for space exploration in you. And are a vital tool for inquisitive star-gazers. They sit with these charts and gaze at the heavens all night. Now, you can too. Happy stargazing.