Friday, July 26, 2019

Every visible star in the night sky, in one map

View the full-size version of this infographic

From Visual Capitalist by Iman Gosh

The stars have fascinated humanity since the beginning of civilization, from using them to track the different seasons, to relying on them to navigate thousands of miles on the open ocean.

Today, travelers trek to the ends of the Earth to catch a glimpse of the Milky Way, untouched by light pollution.
However, if you’re in the city and the heavens align on a clear night, you might still be able to spot somewhere between 2,500 to 5,000 stars scattered across your field of vision.

This stunning star map was created by Eleanor Lutz, under the Reddit pseudonym /hellofromthemoon, and is a throwback to all the stars and celestial bodies that could be seen by the naked eye on Near Year’s Day in 2000.

Star Light, Star Bright

Stars have served as a basis for navigation for thousands of years.
Polaris, also dubbed the North Star in the Ursa Minor constellation, is arguably one of the most influential, even though it sits 434 light years away.

Because of its relative location to the Earth’s axis, Polaris is reliably found in the same spot throughout the year—on this star map, it can be spotted in the top right corner.
The Polynesian people famously followed the path of the North Star, along with wave currents, in all their way-finding journeys.

Interestingly, Polaris’ dependability is why it is commonly mistaken as the brightest star, but Sirius actually takes that crown—find it below the Gemini constellation, at the 7HR latitude and -20° longitude coordinates on the visualization.
Located in the Canis Majoris constellation, Sirius burns bluish-white, and is one of the hottest objects in the universe with a surface temperature of 17,400°F (9,667°C). Sirius is nearly 40 times brighter than our Sun.

The Egyptians associated Sirius with the goddess Isis, and used its location to predict the annual flooding of the Nile.
This also isn’t the only way humans have used visible stars to “predict” the future, as evidenced by the ancient practice of astrology.

Seeking Answers in the Stars

In the star map above, the orange lines denote the twelve signs of the Zodiac, each found roughly along the same band from 10° to -30° longitude. These Zodiac alignments, along with planetary movements, form the basis of astrology, which has been practiced across cultures to predict significant events. While the scientific method has widely demonstrated that astrology doesn’t hold much validity, many people still believe in it today.

The red lines on the visualization signify the constellations officially recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 1922.
Its ancient Greek origins are recorded on the same map as the blue lines, from which the modern constellation boundaries are based.

Here’s a deeper dive into all 88 IAU constellations:
(Source: International Astronomical Union)
Constellation    English Name    Category    Brightest star
  • Andromeda    Chained Maiden/ Princess    Creature/ Character    Alpheratz
  • Antlia    Air Pump    Object    α Antliae
  • Apus     Bird of Paradise    Animal    α Apodis
  • Aquarius    Water Bearer    Creature/ Character    Sadalsuud
  • Aquila    Eagle    Animal    Altair
  • Ara    Altar    Object    β Arae
  • Aries    Ram    Animal    Hamal
  • Auriga    Charioteer    Creature/ Character    Capella
  • Boötes    Herdsman    Creature/ Character    Arcturus
  • Caelum    Engraving Tool    Object    α Caeli
  • Camelopardalis    Giraffe    Animal    β Camelopardalis
  • Cancer    Crab    Animal    Tarf
  • Canes Venatici    Hunting Dogs    Animal    Cor Caroli
  • Canis Major    Great Dog    Animal    Sirius
  • Canis Minor    Lesser Dog    Animal    Procyon
  •  Capricornus    Sea Goat    Creature/ Character    Deneb Algedi
  • Carina    Keel    Object    Canopus
  • Cassiopeia    Seated Queen    Creature/ Character    Schedar
  • Centaurus    Centaur    Creature/ Character    Rigil Kentaurus
  • Cepheus    King    Creature/ Character    Alderamin
  • Cetus    Sea Monster    Creature/ Character    Diphda
  • Chamaeleon    Chameleon    Animal    α Chamaeleontis
  • Circinus    Compass    Object    α Circini
  • Columba    Dove    Animal    Phact
  • Coma Berenices    Bernice's Hair    Creature/ Character    β Comae Berenices
  • Corona Australis    Southern Crown    Object    Meridiana
  • Corona Borealis    Northern Crown    Object    Alphecca
  • Corvus    Crow    Animal    Gienah
  • Crater    Cup    Object    δ Crateris
  • Crux    Southern Cross    Object    Acrux
  • Cygnus    Swan    Animal    Deneb
  • Delphinus    Dolphin    Animal    Rotanev
  • Dorado    Swordfish    Animal    α Doradus
  • Draco    Dragon    Creature/ Character    Eltanin
  • Equuleus    Little Horse    Animal    Kitalpha
  • Eridanus    River    Object    Achernar
  • Fornax    Furnace    Object    Dalim
  • Gemini    Twins    Creature/ Character    Pollux
  • Grus    Crane    Animal    Alnair
  • Hercules    Hercules    Creature/ Character    Kornephoros
  • Horologium    Pendulum Clock    Object    α Horologii
  • Hydra    Female Water Snake    Creature/ Character    Alphard
  • Hydrus    Male Water Snake    Creature/ Character    β Hydri
  • Indus    Indian    Creature/ Character    α Indi
  • Lacerta    Lizard    Animal    α Lacertae
  • Leo    Lion    Animal    Praecipua
  • Leo Minor    Lesser Lion    Animal    Regulus
  • Lepus    Hare    Animal    Arneb
  • Libra    Scales    Object    Zubeneschamali
  • Lupus    Wolf    Animal    α Lupi
  • Lynx    Lynx    Animal    α Lyncis
  • Lyra    Lyre    Object    Vega
  • Mensa    Table Mountain    Object    α Mensae
  • Microscopium    Microscope    Object    γ Microscopii
  • Monoceros    Unicorn    Creature/ Character    β Monocerotis
  • Musca    Fly    Animal    α Muscae
  • Norma    Carpenter's Square    Object    γ2 Normae
  • Octans    Octant    Object    ν Octantis
  • Ophiuchus    Serpent Bearer    Creature/ Character    Rasalhague
  • Orion    Hunter    Creature/ Character    Rigel
  • Pavo    Peacock    Animal    Peacock
  • Pegasus    Winged Horse    Creature/ Character    Enif
  • Perseus    Hero    Creature/ Character    Mirfak
  • Phoenix    Phoenix    Creature/ Character    Ankaa
  • Pictor    Painter's Easel    Object    α Pictoris
  • Pisces    Fishes    Animal    Alpherg
  • Piscis Austrinus    Southern Fish    Creature/ Character    Fomalhaut
  • Puppis    Stern    Object    Naos
  • Pyxis    Mariner's Compass    Object    α Pyxidis
  • Reticulum    Reticle (Eyepiece)    Object    α Reticuli
  • Sagitta    Arrow    Object    γ Sagittae
  • Sagittarius    Archer    Creature/ Character    Kaus Australis
  • Scorpius    Scorpion    Animal    Antares
  • Sculptor    Sculptor    Creature/ Character    α Sculptoris
  • Scutum    Shield    Object    α Scuti
  • Serpens    Serpent    Animal    Unukalhai
  • Sextans    Sextant    Object    α Sextantis
  • Taurus    Bull    Animal    Aldebaran
  • Telescopium    Telescope    Object    α Telescopii
  • Triangulum    Triangle    Object    Atria
  • Triangulum Australe    Southern Triangle    Object    β Trianguli
  • Tucana    Toucan    Animal    α Tucanae
  • Ursa Major    Great Bear    Animal    Alioth
  • Ursa Minor    Little Bear    Animal    Polaris
  • Vela    Sails    Object    γ2 Velorum
  • Virgo    Maiden    Creature/ Character    Spica
  • Volans    Flying Fish    Animal    β Volantis
  • Vulpecula    Fox    Animal    Anser

Into the Depths of Deep Space

The quirk of naming stars after flora and fauna doesn’t end there.
Our night sky also reveals visible galaxies, nebulae, and clusters far, far away—but they’re named after familiar birds, natural objects, and mythical creatures.
See if you can find some of these interesting names:
  • Open Cluster: Wild Duck Cluster
  • Open Cluster: Eagle Nebula
  • Open Cluster: Beehive Cluster
  • Open Cluster: Butterfly Cluster
  • Emission Nebula: North American
  • Emission Nebula: Trifid Nebula
  • Emission Nebula: Lagoon Nebula
  • Emission Nebula: Orion Nebula
  • Open Cluster with Emission Nebula: Swan Nebula
  • Open Cluster with Emission Nebula: Christmas Tree Cluster
  • Open Cluster with Emission Nebula: Rosette Nebula
  • Globular Cluster: Hercules Cluster
There’s an interesting concentration of unnamed open and globular clusters just above the Sagittarius constellation, between 18-20HR latitude and -20° to -30° longitude.
Another one can be seen next to Cassiopeia, just below Polaris between 1HR-3HR latitude, at 60° longitude.
The only two visible spiral galaxies, Andromeda and Pinwheel, are located close between 0-2HR latitude and 30°-40° longitude.

The Relentless Passage of Time

We now know that the night sky isn’t as static as people used to believe.
Although it’s Earth’s major pole star today, Polaris was in fact off-kilter by roughly 8° a few thousand years ago.
Our ancestors saw the twin northern pole stars, Kochab and Pherkad, where Polaris is now.

This difference is due to the Earth’s natural axial tilt.
Eight degrees may not seem like much, but because of this angle, the constellations we gaze at today are the same, yet completely different from the ones our ancestors looked up at.

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