Star Charts

A celestial map from the 17th century, by the Dutch cartographer Frederik de Wit
A celestial map from the 17th century, by the Dutch cartographer Frederik de Wit. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

What is a Star Chart?

A star chart or star map is a map of the night sky. Astronomers divide these into grids to use them more easily. They are used to identify and locate astronomical objects such as stars, constellations and galaxies. They have been used for human navigation since time immemorial. Note that a star chart differs from an astronomical catalog, which is a listing or tabulation of astronomical objects for a particular purpose. A planisphere is a type of star chart.

Below are a few examples of star charts, including digital versions that are used on modern computers and mobile devices.

Star Chart of the South Sky in April.
Star Chart of the South Sky in April. Credit: Sky and Telescope
A typical star chart found on many astronomy magazine, newspapers, and almanacs.
A typical star chart found on many astronomy magazine, newspapers, and almanacs. Credit: Sky and Telescope
Today, many astronomers use a wide variety of digital star charts, including Sky Safari.
Today, many astronomers use a wide variety of digital star charts, including Sky Safari. Credit: Sky Safari Pro