Beautiful night-sky maps for any aspiring astronomer

Get to know the constellations—and how they fit into the galaxy.

The Milky Way galaxy
Travel to the stars without ever leaving the ground.Martin Sattler via Unsplash

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel gets a lot of buzz, but we often forget about the Earth’s “ceiling”: the stars. Being able to navigate the night sky, however, is all about understanding the transient nature of celestial bodies. They move. We move. So, how can we capture this complex relationship in a map?

A sky map is an invaluable aid based on cultural knowledge and cardinal directions, and is essential in identifying what makes up the night sky at a given time and place. While a telescope is not a requirement, trust us—as you begin to comprehend the enormity of what's out there, you're going to want one.

Guide to the Stars
A beautiful astronomical instrument.Amazon

This planisphere is a simple analog tool that computes what stars are visible at any time using rotating disks. If you’re located between 30 and 60 degrees north on the latitudinal scale—Canada, the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Northern China—this guide will show you how to find numerous stars, galaxies, and constellations. At 16 inches in diameter with a generous font size, you’ll want this for everything from casual backyard gazing to more close-up discoveries with binoculars or a small telescope.

The Cambridge Star Atlas
This more traditional stellar choice.Amazon

Monthly sky maps take the place of a planisphere in this atlas, which covers both the northern and southern hemisphere. In addition to stars, clusters, and galaxies, you’ll find moon maps in Cambridge's 95-page volume. The spiral-bound version is packable and hardy for repeated use.

Encambio Altrea Star Kit
Bring the sky indoors to you.Amazon

Anyone can stick stars on their ceiling and call it a night. But this kit takes decorating a child’s bedroom (or yours) to a more scientific, level. It will take an hour or two to place these glow-in-the-dark stars into 31 constellations on your ceiling, using the enclosed stencil to approximate their distance in space. But you’ll be more than rewarded when your child looks up at the evening sky and says, “There’s a Big Dipper everywhere I go.”

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