Let me give you an example of how useful a star chart can be. Here is an actual portion of the night sky. This is pretty accurate to the constellations of Casseopeia, Andromeda and Pegasus.
And there is a wonderful little secret hidden in this portion of the night sky. The Andromeda Galaxy is here somewhere. And you can see it with the naked eye as an elongated little cotton ball. But you would never find it admidst the 5,999 other stars in the sky.
A Star Chart helps us understand and identify these various stars. This is the exact same star pattern. But now we have broken it down into understandable groups of stars. And with this we can now figure out what is where. So, in no time at all you can identify these patterns and know right where you are in the night sky.
And the star chart tells you that the Andromeda Galaxy is right here. And now that you know exactly what little dot of light that it is you can start really looking at it. And it will reveal itself. You will be able to see that it isn't a dot of light but a little elongated cotton ball! Yup! You have found the Andromeda Galaxy with just your eyes.
So, this is one of the wonderful things about star charts. Not only do they help you identify and learn the constellalations but they also show you other things.
I recommend you start out with a simple star wheel type chart. And after you have extracted a lot of fun out of it and you find you are wanting more then you move on to an Atlas which has much more detailed star charts and information.
One of the things I really love about a star atlas is that you can really enjoy it in the house during the day. It is a discovery kind of thing. You can look through the night sky in the pages of a book.
This First Star chart comes in three versions depending on where in the United States that you live. If you are unfamiliar with Latitiude I will point out the right one for you depending on where you live.
This first one is if you live in the Northern Half of the US or in Canada
The Night Sky 40º - 50º (Large) Star Finder
The Night Sky is a rotating star finder- or planisphere that allows the user to recognize the constellations for any time of night, any day of the year. The sky appears to rotate (due to the rotation and orbital motion of the earth), so to be successful recognizing the constellations a beginner needs to know which stars are above the horizon at any time.
This is the full-sized version of The Night Sky suitable for the 40Â°-50Â° latitude zone (northern United States and parts of Europe). We have versions for the following latitude zones: 50°-60°, 40°-50°, 30°-40°, 20°-30°, and the Southern Hemisphere. We also have pocket-sized versions available for the same latitude zones.
This second one is if you live in the Southern Half of the US. 30º - 40º Latitude
And this third one is if you live in the very South of the US, places like south Texas, Hawaii, and Florida. US. 20º - 30º Latitude
Guide to the Stars -
The 5th edition (published 2013) of the 16-inch diameter plastic Guide to the Stars chart is an instrument to help you identify the constellations. You simply dial-in your observing time and date to find the set of constellations visible in your sky (this is accomplished by turning the clear top piece). Although this chart is designed for beginners, seasoned amateur astronomers will find it useful, too.
This chart can be used anywhere in the world between latitudes 30 and 60 degrees North, which includes the US and Canada, England, Europe, Northern China and Japan.
The 16-inch diameter is large and easy to read, ideal for families, teachers and seniors! The 5th edition has been improved by indicating more binocular objects and providing more pertinent information on the back, all without increasing clutter or decreasing the text size.
Pocket Sky Atlas -
We raised the bar again with our Pocket Sky Atlas: the print version is the handiest detailed atlas around, easy to take on trips and use at the telescope thanks to its compact size, convenient spiral-bound design, and easy-to-read labels.
The Night Sky: A Glow-in-the-Dark Guide to Prominent Stars & Constellations North of the Equator (Pocket Naturalist Guide Series)
This innovative - Glow-in-the-Dark - pocket reference highlights prominent constellations and stars that are visible with the naked eye north of the equator. Simply shine a light on the guide to illuminate the constellations and their names on the summer or winter star charts. Also includes descriptions of the meaning of each constellation and instructions on how to use your fingers to 'walk' between constellations to find prominent stars. Laminated for durability, this clever guide is an excellent source of portable information and ideal for field use by novices and experts alike. Over 250,000 sold. Made in the USA.
Orion 4150 DeepMap 600 Folding Star Chart
- Full-color star map of the night sky with clearly indicated positions of 600 of the finest celestial objects to view
- Star chart conveniently folds up just like a road map for easy storage and transport
- Orion DeepMap 600 shows the night sky from declination +70 degrees to -60 degrees
- Back of chart lists essential data for all 600 objects of interest, including a brief visual description of each object - an ideal reference for beginners and advanced observers alike!
Orion 51919 MoonMap 260 (Black)
- The meticulously detailed Moon Map 260 is a must-have for any backyard astronomer
- Map identifies over 260 lunar features including craters, valleys, ancient lava flows, mountain ranges and more
- Conveniently laminated for use in almost any weather
- Identifies all successful landing sites from US and Soviet lunar missions
- Includes both correct-image and reversed mirror image maps of the Moon for easy use with binoculars, unaided eyes, or any telescope
The Observer's Sky Atlas: With 50 Star Charts Covering the Entire Sky
- Includes a short introduction to observing, a thorough description of the star charts and tables, a glossary and much more
- Perfect for both the beginner and seasoned observer
- Fully revised edition of a best-selling and highly-praised sky atlas
Star Maps for Beginners -
Designed with the beginner in mind and useful to anyone interested in astronomy. Star Maps for Beginners is the classic guide to viewing and understanding the heavens. Its superb maps -- drawn in the shape of two crossed ellipses -- provide the reader with a unique perspective on the sky and have been widely acknowledged as the easiest system yet devised for locating any constellation at any time of the year.
Now revised for the 1990s, with updated planet charts and a new section on spotting meteor showers. Star Maps for Beginners includes:
-12 complete maps -- one for each month -- showing the positions of the constellations viewed from every direction
-a synoptic table that shows how to choose the proper map for use at any time special tables that give approximate positions of the planets for the years 1992 through 1997
the most up-to-date overview of the solar system available today the latest facts about each of the planets -- orbit, size, atmosphere, internal structure, climate, and terrain
-a full chapter on the history and development of the constellations, and the ancient legends and mythological lore surrounding them
-a special section on meteors -- how they originate and when and where to spot them.
Initially published in 1942 and now celebrating its 50th anniversary, Star Maps for Beginners has sold more than 450,000 copies.
Night Sky Playing Cards
Play your favorite card games while studying the constellations. This deck features 52 different constellations, and each suit represents a different season. So you'll know what to look for and when to look for it. Learning the constellations has never been so much fun!