Easy Ways to Read Astronomy Star Charts

Source: We Are Brainstorm

Lazing under the bright, clear sky bursting with sparkly stars is just too fascinating to miss.  In this modern era of stargazing, many count on technology to find their favorite constellations. Well, it’s definitely okay to make use of computerize telescopes yet there’s something magical about reading star charts manually. Learning how to read a star chart can be quite intimidating, with all the confusing dots and scattered lines. But fret no more because we’ll make it downright easier for you.


Before you set out for a stargazing escapade, you should have an idea of the constellations. Constellations are group of bright stars that creates a distinct pattern. Simply said, it’s like connecting the dots. However, these patterns are significantly associated with certain predictions, and even as means of communication. Heaps of constellations are scattered all over the nightly sky—88 recognized constellations to be exact. There are birds, men and women, insects, animals, inanimate objects, and so much more. In spite of the numerous choices for your stargazing, there are seven iconic constellations— Orion, Andromeda, Hercules, Cassiopeia, Perseus, Virgo, and Ursa Minor. You might have heard of these names. Actually, most of them are taken from the ever fascinating Greek mythology.


Once you have sorted out the constellations you want to discover for the night, then it’s time to get on with the star charts. For most beginners, finding your way around the sky is pretty daunting. Let’s start with an all-sky chart.


All-Sky Chart

Source: ESA

Just like constellations, there are different types of astronomy star charts. The most common is the all-sky chart or also known as the planisphere. An all-sky chart seems like a worldwide map, and the constellations are the countries. This particular chart features a round format, which specific dates and times of the years. It is designed to be hold above your head, from east to west or left to right. This way of holding and reading the chart is the right way to match the movements of the Earth, as well as the celestial sphere. For instance, let have the April’s evening sky. First, find the ‘W’ on the map, which is located on the right side. Then, angle the map so that the ‘W’ will now be at the bottom while looking due west. From there, you will witness the stars of winter. The bright stars Gemini’s twin stars and Procyon appears very bright on the west, and some parts of Orion can also be seen. Afterwards, swing your gaze to the southern sky. Set the ‘S’ at the bottom by turning the chart 90° counterclockwise. There you will see the brightest constellations of spring— Virgo and Leo. From there, move your neck directly overhead, and you will find Ursa Major, together with its seven bright stars labeled as the Big Dipper. There are still lots of bright constellations sprinkled all over April’s mystic night sky. You just have to turn the chart accordingly to match up the star patterns.

Formal Astronomy Star Chart

It’s time to be more specific, so let’s get it on with the formal star chart. In the chart, you will see its margin, together with two sets of number. The sets divide the chart into sections. The numbers you notice along the top margin are known as the Right Ascension or simply RA, which is considered as the terrestrial longitude. The other set of numbers that reads from north to south could be positive or negative, and are called Declination or Dec. It is tagged as the celestial counterpart of latitude. The imaginary dividing line in the chart, in which the positive numbers lay to the north and the negative numbers are positioned below, is called the celestial equator. This line distributes the northern and southern portions of the sky.


As you carefully delve into the star charts, you will discover that there are several nebulae and clusters along with the constellations. These are scattered everywhere, and you might be needing an advance star charts to find them. Don’t worry because there are astronomy applications to help you deal with the almost invisible stars.

5 Fantastic IOS Astronomy Apps

Source: Google Play


For a more effortless stargazing, modern stargazers would recommend using phone applications to find the constellations. Just like physical star charts, these apps help you locate the brightest stars with no trouble. These are equipped with instructions and guidelines to make your stargazing easier. Well, technology is truly amazing and there’s nothing you can’t do with your iPhone. Here are some of the best IOS star chart apps you can try.

1. Luminos

A perfect treat for astronomy fans, Luminos highlights something more than what you expect. It is a fine astronomy app that accents countless of celestial objects, from stars to planets and other space objects. It acts as a virtual telescope that covers everything across the night sky, and even those beyond the naked eye. Find your favorite constellations with this premium mobile app.

2. Star Walk

The sleek graphics and fascinating features make Star Walk one of the ultimate IOS astrology apps. It takes stargazing to a whole new dimension as it helps you identify what you are looking at in the night sky. Aside from finding the constellations, there are several interesting additions that will surely make your astrology heart flutter.

3. Star Map

Another hit astronomy app for iPhone is the Star Map. This program is simply amazing when it comes to searching over 2 million stars and thousands of sky objects. The Apple TV and Apple Watch interface make it more exciting than other applications on hand.

4. Pocket Universe: Virtual Sky Astronomy

From the name itself, you can have the universe within your in your pocket. With the help of this IOS app, there’s no need to bother yourself with the manual star chart. It is best for newbie stargazers or even those professional astronomers as it emphasizes simple demonstrations, as well as step-up activities.

5. Distant Suns

One of the longest running astrology apps, Distant Suns have definitely created a name in finding thousands stars and planets with just a click. Explore the beauty of the sky with the tips of your fingers. It will not just help you find your favorites, but also give you some exciting stories background behind each star.