To an astronomer, a star chart is like a spider’s web. It is a reference table of thousands of stars that contain data on their brightness, shape, brightness variation, and distance from the earth.
It’s a navigational tool as well as an aid to astronomers. Astronomers use star charts to calculate positions relative to the sun or to other stars. Even when a group of astronomers happens to stumble upon a stellar remnant, they need not worry if their computations are accurate because the star chart can supply the correct information.
The calculations needed for an exact position are made based on the data contained in the star chart. There are lots of stellar remnants around the galaxy but very few star charts of such remnants exist so astronomers rely on other resources to get the precise position.
Online Star Chart
Despite the fact that so many people’s star charts are now available online, the Internet does not seem to have solved the problem of finding old star charts of long-gone stars. Unless someone can dig up the ones of those olden days, then one will have to depend on newspapers and journals which usually provide info on astronomical objects.
It would be even better if the Internet could provide information from the local library, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. We know that there are over half a million stars in our own galaxy. And each star is described in a star chart. So we can see where we should be looking to find the star chart of a particular star.
Different Galaxies Have Different Star Charts
Different galaxies star charts contain data for different stars and no two are alike. If you have the good fortune to stumble upon an old star chart, you can check whether it is accurate by reading its information. The information given by the star charts can help you figure out the position of a star and thereby narrow down your search for it.
If you know the distance between two stars then you will also know the distance between them in the chart so you can plot a chart of two stars. If there are three stars in a chart, then the third star will show up as one of the larger stars in the chart.
There are a lot of star charts available from various sources. You can find them in magazines like Astrophotography, Popular Science, Sky and Telescope, and others.
Astronomers who happen to discover a stellar remnant can check out the chart published by the astronomers who discovered the remnant. A quick look at the chart can help you determine if it is the remnant you are looking for.
Importance Of These Charts
Unlike the earlier days when a star chart was purely for navigation purposes, these charts are of great use in calculating the positions of celestial bodies in outer space. If the astronomers whose star charts are published by a publication are also scientists in the field. Their data will be of great help in obtaining the precise positions of celestial bodies.
One can buy catalogs, containing star charts, from libraries, the local bookstores, or from any good bookstore. But if you want to buy one, don’t hesitate to make a special order.
When you buy one of these books from the store, make sure that you check the catalog carefully and that you use the right tools for getting your data. And, of course, make sure that the star chart is accurate.