What is a Star Map?

What is a Star Map

A Star Map is essentially a snapshot or a map of the sky at night. They’re used to find constellations and other objects like galaxies and stars or nebulae. They’ve also been utilized during voyages for navigation purposes.  

Nowadays, they are given as gifts to memorialize weddings, birthdates, anniversaries, and any other special occasions that take place in our lives. These maps used to be created by hand using a compass, protractor, ruler, a good size sheet of paper, and a pair of steady hands. However, they can now be easily digitized and designed in a matter of minutes, then printed and framed. 

What do you need to make a Star Map?

To make your Star Map, you’ll need a couple of tools such as:

  • A Picture Frame
  • Microsoft Word
  • A Ruler
  • A Pen or Pencil
  • Your Computer
  • Your Printer
  • Card stock paper that is either black or white

How to make a Star Map

1. Decide on the occasion your Star Map is paying homage to. Star maps are often gifted for weddings, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and so much more. Once you’ve gotten this part figured out, you’ll have to produce the date of the event and where it took place.

2.Figuring out longitude and latitude. If you’re doing this manually, you’ll want to figure out the latitude and longitude of the city, state, and maybe the specific building your event took place. You should be alright with just the city and state, though. These longitude-latitude coordinates will allow you to map the stars particular to that location. Generally, if you enter addresses into Google Maps, sometimes it will produce coordinates for you, too, so you do have options.
a) A good resource for converting your location into the exact coordinates would be https://www.latlong.net/convert-address-to-lat-long.html.

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3.Double-check your date and time. Make sure you have the correct date and time of your chosen event. You’ll be needing that bit of information to convert it to UTC or Universal Time.
a) A good resource for setting these logistics to UTC would be https://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/Yoursky.
b) This website allows you a fair amount of flexibility and a variety of options so that you can add more personalization to your star map if you’d like.

4.Transfer over the information from steps one and two into this webpage. Here, you’ll put in the same date and exact location of the event you’re mapping the stars for. You’ll see an option to choose North, South, East, and West on the web page. Be sure to set latitude up as North or South and set longitude up as East or West.

5. White on Black or Black on White? Before the webpage can generate a star map for you, be sure to select whether or not you prefer white on a black background or black on white background. Update the star map and double-check the final details.

6. Save, save, save. Once you’ve looked over the information and made any necessary changes, you can now save the map to your desktop by right-clicking it and selecting the ‘Save image as…’ option.

7. Print out your Map. The best thing you can do where size is concerned is to add the Star Map image into a Word document. Why? Simply put, you can change the margins and enlargen the photo as much as possible.
a) Tip: Set all custom margins to zero to maximize space.

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When you’re ready, you can go on and print out your map.

Paper and Sizing

The paper type and sizing depend wholly on you. Suppose you have a reasonably good printer, good quality ink, and don’t require any size beyond the standard 8.5 inches by 11-inch paper. In that case, you could go to your local arts and crafts store to get card stock paper or paper that is particularly good at holding and absorbing color ink.

However, if not, then it would be wise to use a print shop. The benefits of a print shop are that they offer an enormous variety of better quality paper and larger size paper that you can choose from. You’d have choices like gloss paper or recycled papers. However, you can expect to pay a pretty penny the higher the quality and printing job.

More Customization

You can cut your map out from the paper and glue it on black or white cardstock paper if you choose to. If you like to go the extra mile, you can add fanciful designs and even add in the names, dates, and personal messages you’d like at the bottom of the map.

Using a graphic design program allows you to add in other shapes and unique designs. Or, if you prefer to print straight, you could even add designs by hand using a fine point sharpie or liner pens.

Lastly, frame your work! Or, if it’s the size of a generic poster, go ahead and mount it on the wall. Thumbtacks are pretty good for mounting.

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About the Author: Derek John

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