Tonight's Sky
Sun
Sun
Moon
Moon
Mercury
Mercury
Venus
Venus
Mars
Mars
Jupiter
Jupiter
Saturn
Saturn

Tonight's Sky — Change location

OR

Searching...

Tonight's Sky — Select location

Tonight's Sky — Enter coordinates

° '
° '

Choose a star atlas that's right for you

Before heading out into the night, make sure you’re armed with the best maps.
ASYSA0611_07
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.
Astronomy: James Forbes
Advanced star atlases
Avid deep-sky observers need more than the above atlases can offer. When you scan the sky through large telescopes — those with apertures of 10 inches or more — a 6th-magnitude limit doesn’t get you far. Luckily, we can turn to advanced star atlases that show stars to 9th magnitude and fainter and plot tens of thousands of deep-sky objects.

The two-volume Uranometria 2000.0 is just such a star atlas. The 2001 second edition plotted more stars and deep-sky objects than any atlas that came before it. Uranometria contains 220 double-page atlas charts, which collectively show more than 280,000 stars to magnitude 9.75 and 30,000 deep-sky objects. Uranometria divides the sky in half, with declinations between 90° and –6° covered in volume one and 6° to –90° included in volume two.

This atlas also includes a set of 22 “Uranometria Star Maps” at the front of each volume. These wide-scale maps serve as keys to the more detailed atlas charts. In addition to the standard lists of deep-sky objects (Messier, Caldwell, etc.), Uranometria includes objects in comparatively obscure lists such as the Uppsala General Catalog of Galaxies and the Strasbourg-ESO Catalog of Galactic Planetary Nebulae.

Uranometria
organizes its charts by decreasing declination (north to south). Within each declination range, the charts flow from east to west by decreasing hours of right ascension (rather than by increasing right ascension). This allows each chart to flow across the book’s binding, creating continuous two-page maps that measure 18 inches wide by 12 inches tall (45.7cm by 30.5cm).

Uranometria
also includes a series of maps illustrating selected regions whose scale has been magnified 2 to 3 times and that show stars to at least magnitude 11.5. Enlarged charts are provided for the Coma-Virgo galaxy cluster, several Abell galaxy clusters, the Large Magellanic Cloud, and areas in Cygnus, Scorpius, and Sagittarius.
ASYSA0611_08
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.
Astronomy: James Forbes

Wil Tirion’s Sky Atlas 2000.0, published in 1998, contains 26 charts that show 81,312 single, multiple, and variable stars down to magnitude 8.5, as well as more than 2,700 deep-sky objects. The charts in the new edition take their data from the European Space Agency’s Hipparcos satellite.

Sky Atlas 2000.0 also features several close-up charts, including regions around both celestial poles (helpful for polar aligning equatorial mounts), magnified fields showing the proper motions of Barnard’s Star and Proxima Centauri, and detailed views of central Orion and the Coma-Virgo galaxy cluster. The included acetate coordinate grid overlay will help you determine accurate positions.

Unlike other atlases, Sky Atlas 2000.0 is available in several different versions. The “Field Version” features white stars and deep-sky objects against a black background, while the “Desk Version” plots black stars and objects on a white background. Both feature heavy 13.5-inch by 18.5-inch (34.3cm by 47cm) stock and come unbound.

The spiral-bound “Deluxe Version” features black stars and color-coded deep-sky objects (star clusters are yellow, nebulae are green, and galaxies are red) on a white background. Each of the “Deluxe” charts measures 16 inches by 21 inches (40.6cm by 53.3cm), but all fold into a 12-inch by 16-inch format. All three editions are also available laminated for better protection against dew.

ASYSA0611_09
The Herald-Bobroff Astroatlas contains 214 charts in six sets. The main set displays stars to magnitude 9.0 and many deep-sky objects to magnitude 14.0.
Astronomy: James Forbes

Another advanced star atlas is The Herald-Bobroff Astroatlas. Unlike other star works here, Herald-Bobroff is a multi-scaled atlas. It contains 214 charts divided into 6 sections (A through F).

The 12 “A” charts give a good overall view of the sky.

The 48 “B” charts fall into three 16-chart sets: “B,” “BS,” and “BM.”  They show stars down to magnitude 6.9. The “B” series plots the brightest stars and deep-sky objects. The “B” and “BS” charts are identical except that the “BS” charts show south up. The “BM” charts contain stars only to specific magnitudes listed on the chart. These maps are great for helping you judge sky transparency.

The 94 “C” charts display stars to magnitude 9.0 and deep-sky objects to magnitude 14.0. Double star plots also include the pair’s position angle. For galaxies, Herald-Bobroff plots the orientation and relative size of each to scale.

On each of the “C” charts, you’ll notice light-gray boundaries. The 42 “D” charts expand those to varying scales. “D” charts show stars to magnitude 10.0 (11.5 in galaxy fields) and deep-sky objects to magnitude 15.0.

The “E” and “F” charts are magnified views of regions like the Virgo Cluster and the Magellanic Clouds. They plot stars to magnitude 11.0 and deep-sky objects to magnitude 15.0.

ASYSA0611_10
The Great Atlas of the Sky, Jubilee Edition, by Polish physicist Piotr Brych displays a whopping 2.4 million stars to magnitude 12. Its charts also contain more than 70,000 deep-sky objects.
Image courtesy Teletechnika

More than 2 million stars
The final map on my list is The Great Atlas of the Sky, Jubilee Edition, the world’s largest printed atlas. It contains 296 maps, each covering a sky region 15° by 10°. The size of the maps is 24 inches by 17 inches (61cm by 43.2cm). Polish physicist Piotr Brych produced this atlas.

This incredible work plots 2,430,768 stars to magnitude 12, and 130,000 of those have designations. Atlas maps also show more than 70,000 deep-sky objects including those from the Principal Galaxy Catalog. For variable-star lovers, it plots all stars in the General Catalogue of Variable Stars and the New Catalogue of Suspected Variable Stars.

Any nebula with a diameter greater than 5' appears as an outline reflecting its shape. Galaxies larger than 2' are ellipses with sizes and locations plotted to scale. The maps also have the ecliptic plotted on them, with an angular scale of 0.1°. In the case of polar maps, axial precession is indicated by the position of the poles in the years 2000–2100.

The Great Atlas of the Sky’s binding allows for easy removal of individual maps for outdoor use. The atlas also comes with a coordinate grid overlay to help you plot additional objects with known coordinates, like comets.

The choice is yours
Whether you’re a beginning amateur astronomer looking for a grouping of Venus and the Moon to shoot with your digital camera or a veteran deep-sky observer on a quest for Abell 2151, there’s a star atlas just for you. If you’re unsure which one to buy, start with a beginner’s version. Learn the bright stars, major constellations, and prominent deep-sky objects it shows. You can always upgrade from there.

2 of 2
0

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Read and share your comments on this article
Comment on this article
Want to leave a comment?
Only registered members of Astronomy.com are allowed to comment on this article. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
0 comments
ADVERTISEMENT

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Receive news, sky-event information, observing tips, and more from Astronomy's weekly email newsletter.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
BoxProductcovernov

Click here to receive a FREE e-Guide exclusively from Astronomy magazine.

Find us on Facebook

Loading...