Star Chart Cartography - History and Evolution

  What's the Right Ascension (RA) of stars due south right
  now?  Your Local Sidereal Time (LST) equals (RA) of stars on
  your southern meridian.

Growing up on a farm north of Newton, IA in the 1950s, the nights where still inky black. Our parents taught us about the Big and Little Dippers, Orion, the Pleiades and a few other easily recognizable constellations and asterisms. Lacking a star chart I made up some of my own patterns. My young eyes could easily resolve many close double stars including Nu1 and Nu2 in head of Draco. I had no knowledge of Draco at the time. In fact, the four stars of Draco's head and a fifth star from Hercules formed a little house in my mind. In the late summer evenings, shimmering to the south - southeast in the re-radiating heat of the day, the pattern of stars from Sagittarius reminded me of large metal power transmission towers. The stars were then (and are now) comforting, always there. Of course there are the migrations of solar system objects and the occasional brightening or dimming of a star that most of us don't notice. For the most part, the stars seem to be unchanging. Off to college, life got busy, not much time under the sky. About 1984 I ventured (for the first time) to the fourth floor (the Map room) of the Parks Library at Iowa State. I stumbled across a copy of Wil Tirion's Star Atlas 2000.0 that would launch me into being a true amateur astronomer. Star Atlas 2000.0 certainly helped me navigate the sky naked eye and with 7x50 binoculars. I learning star hopping techniques allowing me to following the dimming Comet 1P/Halley through the constellation Hydra in April and May of 1986. What a wonderful way to explore the sky. With these star charts I could explore (at least on paper) south of the "Tropic of Ames", as I like to call it, the sky beyond my southern horizon as if I was with Magellan exploring new horizons around celestial sky. Discovering Sky Atlas 2000.0 led me to subscribing to "Sky & Telescope", acquiring and devouring many astronomy books, joining the Ames Area Amateur Astronomers (AAAA), using telescopes, and teaching astronomy for 17 years at Marshalltown Community College. Frostiana: "Choose Something Like A Star", Randall Thompson Performed by the New York Choral Society with the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Richard Auldon Clark Choose Something Like a Star - Robert Frost O star (the fairest one in sight), We grant your loftiness the right To some obscurity of cloud- It will not do to say of night, Since dark is what brings out your light. Some mystery becomes the proud. But to be wholly taciturn In your reserve is not allowed. Say something to us we can learn By heart and when alone repeat. Say something! And it says "I burn." But say with what degree of heat. Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade. Use language we can comprehend. Tell us what elements you blend. It gives us strangely little aid, But does tell something in the end. And steadfast as Keats Eremite, Not even stooping from its sphere, It asks a little of us here. It asks of us a certain height, So when at times the mob is swayed To carry praise or blame too far, We may choose something like a star To stay our minds on and be staid.

I call your attention to the Wikipedia page: Wikipedia: Celestial cartography 1603 Wikipedia: Uranometria (1603) Naked Eye Observations This image is courtesy of the United States Naval Observatory Library [1], who gives explicit permission to use it so long as the attribution is attached. The use of Brahe's catalog allowed for considerably better accuracy than Ptolemy's somewhat limited star listing. The stars listed in Uranometria total over 1,200, indicating that Brahe's catalog (1005) was not the only source of information used. Bayer took the southern star positions and constellation names for the 49th plate from the catalog of Dutch navigator Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser, who corrected the older observations of Amerigo Vespucci and Andrea Corsali, as well as the report of Pedro de Medina. Uranometria contains many more stars than did any previous star atlas, though the exact number is disputed as not all stars on the charts are labeled. 1627, Rudolphine Tables - contains the first West[ern] Enlightenment star table, based on measurements of Tycho Brahe, 1,005 stars "Tycho & Kepler" by Kitty Ferguson ISBN-13: 9780802713902 ISBN-10: 0802713904 1981 Sky Atlas 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 8.5) Sky Atlas 2000.0 by Wil Tirion features 26 star charts plus close-up charts and a grid overlay. It shows 81,312 stars to magnitude 8.5 along with approximately 2,700 deep-sky objects. ~James Forbes Wikipedia: Wil Tirion Wil Tirion is a Dutch uranographer. His most famous work, Sky Atlas 2000.0, is renowned by astronomers for its accuracy and beauty. Wil Tirion was the sole author of the first edition of Sky Atlas 2000.0, a masterpiece that was entirely drawn by hand. Wil Tirion and Roger Sinnott collaborated on the second edition of Sky Atlas 2000.0, which was computer generated -- with a huge amount of hand tweaking, like all good star charts. ~Tony Flanders, Associate Editor, Sky & Telescope All future atlases would have computer generated charts. Sky Atlas 2000.0 includes 26 charts with 43,000 stars and 2500 non-stellar objects. 1987 Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.7; 11.5 in selected close-ups) The second edition of Tirion's most complete work, Uranometria 2000.0, was published in 2001 by Willmann-Bell. He is also responsible for the sky charts found in many other publications. He was originally a graphic designer. The minor planet 4648 Tirion is named after him. Uranometria 2000.0 is a star atlas for dedicated observers. Its 220 two-page star charts show more than 280,000 stars down to magnitude 9.75. ~James Forbes 1997 Millennium Star Atlas (stars to magnitude 11) The Hi-ppar-cos: an all-sky atlas of one million stars to visual magnitude 11 (from the Hi-ppar-cos and Tycho Catalogues) and 10,000 non-stellar objects included to complement the catalogue data. The Millennium Star Atlas is available as part of the Hi-ppar-cos and Tycho Catalogues (Volumes 14-16). The Millennium Star Atlas is a remarkable map of the celestial sphere, undertaken by Sky Publishing Corporation in collaboration with the European Space Agency and the Hi-ppar-cos scientific community. Very simply, the Millennium Star Atlas comprises 1548 star charts, using them to show the location of all 1,058,332 stars included in the Tycho Catalogue. It superimposes on these stars a wealth of material - from the Hi-ppar-cos Catalogue - illustrating their proper motion, their variability characteristics, their distance (if closer than 200 light years), and the details of their close companions. The information available now has exceeded that which can be reasonably portrayed in a printed atlas. Therefore, the most detailed charts are those that are available as computer software. Recent examples currently include more than 100 million stars.

SkySafari 6 Pro - Professional Telescope Astronomy Software SkySafari 6 Pro will revolutionize your astronomical viewing experience. It has the largest database of any astronomy app, includes every solar system object ever discovered, offers unparalleled accuracy, flawless telescope control, Augmented Reality (AR) mode, and provides the very best experience under the stars when you depend on it. Discover why SkySafari 6 Pro is the #1 recommended astronomy app for serious amateur astronomers since 2009. Also available for iOS, iPadOS, and Android devices. Continuing our comparison to printed atlases: SkySafari 6 Pro 17.5° x 9.5° SkySafari 6 Pro 4.8° x 2.6° SkySafari 6 Pro 4.2' x 2.3' Live Demos on Mac, iPad and iPhone Couple of years ago I found a small astro-photograph that an Ames Area Amateur Astronomer had given a long time ago. A small portion of the sky with more than a hundred stars in the image. I couldn't remember what the subject matter was or who gave it to me. No markings on the back. But this was a mystery I has to solve. Hidden among all those stars were faint wisps of nebulosity with some curvature like an arc. Nothin familiar to me. Using SkySafari 6 Pro and many hours later I was able to verify stars from the image matched to the star chart on my computer. I'm thinking that Andrew Sorenson gave me his image he made of the Eastern Veil Nebula, probably more than 25 years ago. Not only do I thank him for his astro-photograph, but also for providing me a challenge that made use of today's computer generated astronomy charts and pattern recognition on my part.

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS The Stars: A New Way to See Them by H. A. Rey This book contains the most lucid explanation of the sidereal day I have ever read. If you are looking for a book that explains the big bang theory and modern astronomical theories, this is not your book. If you are want to look up at the sky and recognize stars like old friends, then this is your book. Along the way, you will learn enough about the relative motions of the earth, sun, planets and stars to understand why different parts of the sky are visible at different times of the year, and from various places on earth. 365 Starry Nights; An introduction to Astronomy for every night of the year by Chet Raymo 365 Starry Nights is a unique and fascinating introduction to astronomy designed to give you a complete, clear picture of the sky every night of the year. Divided into 365 concise, illustrated essays, it focuses on the aesthetic as well as the scientific aspects of stargazing. It offers the most up-to-date information available, with hundreds of charts, drawings, and maps-that take you beyond the visible canopy of stars and constellations into the unseen realm of nebulae and galaxies. This simple yet substantial text is full of critical information and helpful hints on how to observe the stars; describe their position; calculate their age, brightness, and distance; and much more. Whether you observe the sky with a telescope or the naked eye, 365 Starry Nights makes the infinite intimate and brings the heavens within your grasp. Keep this invaluable, informative guide close at hand, and you'll find that the sky is the limit 365 nights a year.