For some, appearance matters. They pay attention to the color, the visual effect. Others go deeper. They wonder if the star maps are accurate. How accurate? And where do they get their data from?
Are star maps accurate? How about Strellas star maps?
Personalized star map prints have increased in popularity and for a while now, we’ve had to attend to questions about star maps. A lot of our followers are desperate to know about the accuracy of our star maps. Hence they often send us emails with questions like “Hey, I came across your website when in search of your customized star map. How accurate is your star map?” Or “While creating a star map on your website, I realized that the East and West marks are inversed, why is it so?”
Based on all these questions, and to answer several other questions that you might have, we’ve decided to write a blog post that answers some of the questions related to custom star maps.
How Do We Calculate the Positions of the Stars and Planets?
For us, using the NASA Astronomical Data Centre star catalogue is perhaps the best way to go about this. This is because of its content of information about the planets, nearly 100 million stars, and over 10,000 deep-sky objects, comets, and asteroids. This data is sourced from past and present NASA planetary missions, laboratory measurements, and astronomical observations.
We can combine this data with the precise algorithms, latitude, longitude, and time that you provide to accurately recreate the view of the night sky by date and location.
In other words, there’s a lot of mathematics involved in the process.
The Day and the Night Sky: Why Does it Matter to Have an Accurate Time?
First, it is essential to note that millions of stars surround our planet. When looking at them with the naked eyes, it feels like the stars are fixed in the sky. But in reality, however, the stars are always moving despite our inability to see them. This means that the sky chart at 8 AM and 8 PM over the same city will look different. Apart from the constellation, it is also possible to see other planets within this time period.
As a platform, our biggest goal is to ensure that you have the correct star alignment on your personalized star map when you need it, even in moments of daylight, when the stars cannot be seen with the naked eyes. Don’t worry, if you don’t know the exact time of the event for which you are creating the star poster, you can pick an approximate time. The difference in constellation alignment, clearly shows after a few hours difference. You are welcome to test it out in our interactive star map editor. If you are still in need of more proof, then you can compare our star chart on any independent astronomy software such as https://www.skymaponline.net/default.aspx, and you will find out that there’s perhaps, none better than our accurate star map.
East and West Positions on the Star Chart
Strellas personalized star maps, and in fact, most astronomical images created for scientific purposes shows the east on the left and the west on the right. This flip on the chart is because of the need for it to correspond to the sky above and not the ground below. In other words, earth maps are used for looking down on the globe, while the sky maps are designed to look up at the sky.
To use the chart, you need to imagine holding it above your head for the directions to look correct.
See Constellations and Planets on Accurate Star Maps
A quick count will reveal to you 88 constellations between the northern and southern hemispheres. Sky maps help you to discover which constellations are visible and which disappear as the seasons change all year round. A few constellations like Orion may appear in both hemispheres, depending on your distance from the equator and what time of the year it is. If you can’t see the entire constellation, then there’s a possibility that it is too close to the horizon line and is too far north or south for complete viewing.
For example, in the northern hemisphere, the most visible constellations are the Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. These constellations are visible throughout the whole year.
Our personalized night sky maps include constellations and planet names so you can easily find out what constellations were visible during your birthday, wedding night, or other special moments.