What is a sky map?
A sky map is a map of the night sky that shows the location of stars, constellations, planets and other celestial bodies. Sky maps are often called star charts or star maps.
An all-sky map shows the entire night sky from horizon-to-horizon.
How do I use an all-sky map?
First, be sure you have the correct sky map for your location and date (eg. Northern Hemisphere, February). Next, print out the sky map -- that's what it's for.
Now, look closely at the sky map. Notice the compass directions printed around the edge. You will need to rotate the sky map so the compass direction appears along the bottom of the map when you face that particular direction. Rotate the map about its center to see what is meant.
The center of the map is the part of the sky directly overhead (zenith). Objects in the night sky are located between the zenith and the horizon. So a celestial object which is drawn halfway between the map edge and its center will appear in the sky halfway between the horizon and the zenith.
Find a bright star pattern on the sky map. Note the compass direction of the star pattern on the map. Look up into the night sky as you face the same compass direction. Can you find the bright star pattern? It may help if you hold the map above your head. Try to star-hop from star-to-star using the sky map.
When can I use The Evening Sky Map?
The Evening Sky Map shows the night sky as it appears on certain dates and times from a particular latitude (eg. 35° South). The dates and times when the night sky is the same as the sky map are shown in the top right hand corner of the map.
Can I use The Evening Sky Map at different latitudes?
The monthly sky maps are drawn for two different latitudes -- 40° North and 35° South. The maps are suitable for latitudes up to 15° North or South of these latitudes.
Why are the East and West labels reversed?
Remember the sky map shows the sky as you look away from Earth. Geographic maps show the Earth from above looking down. Hence, the East-West switch on the sky maps.
Still confused? Try this: Hold the sky map above your head with the "NORTH" label towards the North and the "SOUTH" label towards the South. Look up at the sky map. The "EAST" label should be towards the East and the "WEST" label should be West. With the correct orientation of the map, try and locate the stars and planets again -- the map should show them in the correct part of the sky.
Do you provide a sky map for equatorial regions?
Yes, as of April 2009.
Is The Evening Sky Map available in other formats?
No. The Evening Sky Map is only distributed in the Adobe Acrobat PDF format for best print quality and fast download.
To view and print the document you must have installed version 4.x or higher of the free Acrobat Reader program.
The latest version of Acrobat Reader for Macintosh, PC/Windows and Unix computers is available for free at Adobe.
Why can I not see or print the sky map?
First make sure you are using version 4.x or higher of Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you continue to experience problems then we recommend you re-install Adobe Acrobat Reader, restart your computer and then try opening the sky map PDF again. This will almost certainly solve the problem.
The latest version of Adobe Reader (formerly Adobe Acrobat Reader) for Macintosh, PC/Windows and Unix computers is available as a free download from the Adobe Web site.
Can I make copies of The Evening Sky Map?
The Evening Sky Map will not print properly. What should I do?
- First, make sure you are using Adobe Acrobat Reader version 4.x or higher and that it is correctly installed. (If in doubt, re-install the Reader. This will fix most problems.) If you have an old version of the Acrobat Reader program, download and install the latest version available for free from the Adobe Web site. And don't forget to read the installation instructions before you begin.
- Restart both your computer and printer and try opening and printing The Evening Sky Map again. This seems to fix some Acrobat printing problems.
- Print another Acrobat PDF document. If the problem persists then there may be problem with your printer.
- Finally, if all of the above fails and you continue to experience printing problems send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Describe the problem and include details of your computer (Mac/PC, RAM), operating system, browser and Acrobat Reader version.
Can I buy or name a star?
No. Don't be fooled. Read what the International Astronomical Union says about this dubious commercial practice.