Mapping Constellations

  • This map shows every single star visible from Earth, on the darkest night with the clearest sky. The map also includes all of the brightest galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters from W.H. Finlay’s "Concise Catalog of Deep-sky Objects". I illustrated the familiar Western star patterns - or asterisms - in blue and gold, as well as the scientific constellation boundaries in red. I've open-sourced all the code here in a tutorial that explains how to recreate the design. ​​​​​​
  • To illustrate the constellations shown on the bottom of the map, I used the 1824 card series "Urania’s Mirror" as a reference. To update these illustrations from Urania’s Mirror, I first mapped each constellation using the modern HYG star database. Then I adjusted pieces of the Urania’s Mirror illustrations to fit next to the modern star alignments. I also increased the contrast between shapes and removed some confusing details, like the quiver on the centaur’s back in this example. 
  • The full-size star map already shows the actual magnitudes of each star, so I decided to use a more artistic style for these illustrated stars. Each star is drawn as a sunburst with many rays, and the stars are all the same size so the constellation pattern is easier to see against the illustrated background.