Popular Astronomy

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Understanding the star maps

If you are new to star maps, you might find the following useful. On the other hand, you might not. There's just no helping some people.

The colours of the stars are not as strong as shown on our maps, but they do match the types of star. Blue stars are very hot, while red stars are cooler. Just don't expect the colours in the real sky to be as vivid as they are here.

The green symbols mark nebulae and clusters – what look like fuzzy patches. You usually need binoculars or a telescope to see them.

The dotted lines show the official boundaries of the constellations

The solid lines are there to help show the patterns made by the brighter stars in each constellation.

Maps are based on Chris Marriott's SkyMap