Every Visible Star in the Night Sky, in One Map
View the high resolution version of this incredible map by clicking here.
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:
|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|
|Caelum||Engraving Tool||Object||α Caeli|
|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|
|Cassiopeia||Seated Queen||Creature/ Character||Schedar|
|Centaurus||Centaur||Creature/ Character||Rigil Kentaurus|
|Cetus||Sea Monster||Creature/ Character||Diphda|
|Coma Berenices||Bernice's Hair||Creature/ Character||β Comae Berenices|
|Corona Australis||Southern Crown||Object||Meridiana|
|Corona Borealis||Northern Crown||Object||Alphecca|
|♊ Gemini||Twins||Creature/ Character||Pollux|
|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|
|Leo Minor||Lesser Lion||Animal||Regulus|
|Mensa||Table Mountain||Object||α Mensae|
|Monoceros||Unicorn||Creature/ Character||β Monocerotis|
|Norma||Carpenter's Square||Object||γ2 Normae|
|Ophiuchus||Serpent Bearer||Creature/ Character||Rasalhague|
|Pegasus||Winged Horse||Creature/ Character||Enif|
|Pictor||Painter's Easel||Object||α Pictoris|
|Piscis Austrinus||Southern Fish||Creature/ Character||Fomalhaut|
|Pyxis||Mariner's Compass||Object||α Pyxidis|
|Reticulum||Reticle (Eyepiece)||Object||α Reticuli|
|♐ Sagittarius||Archer||Creature/ Character||Kaus Australis|
|Sculptor||Sculptor||Creature/ Character||α Sculptoris|
|Triangulum Australe||Southern Triangle||Object||β Trianguli|
|Ursa Major||Great Bear||Animal||Alioth|
|Ursa Minor||Little Bear||Animal||Polaris|
|♍ Virgo||Maiden||Creature/ Character||Spica|
|Volans||Flying Fish||Animal||β Volantis|
(Source: International Astronomical Union)
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.
If you liked exploring this star map, be sure to check out the geology of Mars from the same designer.
Animated Map: Visualizing Earth’s Seasons
This map visualizes Earth’s seasons, showing how our planet’s Arctic sea ice and vegetation changes throughout the year.
Animated Map: Visualizing Earth’s Seasons
Why does Earth have seasons?
Many people think the seasons are dictated by Earth’s proximity to the Sun, but this isn’t the case. It’s the Earth’s tilt, not its closeness to the Sun, that influences our seasons.
This animated map by Eleanor Lutz visualizes Earth’s seasons, showing how the temperature changes impact ice levels in the Arctic as well as vegetation more broadly. It also highlights the cloud cover and sunlight each hemisphere receives throughout the year, with each frame in the animation representing a month of time.
Why is Earth Tilted?
Unlike some of the planets that sit completely upright and rotate perpendicularly, Earth rotates on a 23.5-degree axis.
But why? A commonly accepted theory among the scientific community is the giant impact hypothesis. According to this theory, a celestial object called Theia collided with Earth many years ago, when the planet was still forming. This collision not only knocked Earth into its tilted position—some believe that the dust and debris from this impact ended up forming our moon.
Ever since, our planet has been rotating with a slight tilt (which itself is not fixed, as it “wobbles” in cycles), giving us our varying seasons throughout the year.
How Earth’s Tilt Influences our Seasons
As our planet orbits the Sun, it’s always leaning in the same direction. Because of its tilt, the different hemispheres receive varying amounts of sunlight at different times of the year.
In December, Earth is technically closer to the Sun than it is in June or July. However, because the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun during December, that part of the planet experiences winter during that time.
The graphic above by the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) visualizes Earth’s orbit throughout the year, showing when each hemisphere receives the most direct sunlight (and thus, experiences summer).
The Climate Change Impact
While our seasons have always varied, it’s worth noting that climate change has impacted our seasons, and changed how much Arctic ice we lose each summer.
In the past, millions of miles of ice remained frozen throughout the summer months. In the 1980s, there were 3.8 million square miles of ice in July—that’s roughly the same size as Australia.
Over the years, Arctic ice cover has steadily declined. In July 2020, the ice cover was only 2.8 million square miles—a million less than the amount four decades ago.
Some scientists are predicting that we could lose our summer sea ice entirely by 2035, which would have a devastating impact on the Artic’s wildlife and the indigenous people who live there.
10 Travel Destinations for Post-Pandemic Life
Excited to get back to travelling the world? This infographic highlights the 10 most popular tourist destinations.
10 Travel Destinations for Post-Pandemic Life
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization formally classified the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. The resulting travel bans decimated the tourism industry, and international air travel initially fell by as much as 98%.
Almost two years later, travel is finally back on the table, though there are many restrictions to consider. Regardless, a survey conducted in September 2021 found that, as things revert to normalcy, 82% of Americans are looking forward to international travel more than anything else.
To give inspiration for your next vacation (whenever that may be), this infographic lists the 10 most visited countries in 2019, as well as three of their top attractions according to Google Maps.
Here were the 10 most popular travel destinations in 2019, measured by their number of international arrivals.
|Country||Number of international arrivals in 2019 (millions)|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||39.4|
*Estimate | Source: World Bank
France was the most popular travel destination by a significant margin, and it’s easy to see why. The country is home to many of the world’s most renowned sights, including the Arc de Triomphe and Louvre Museum.
The Arc de Triomphe was built in the early 1800s, and honors those who died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. In 1944, Allied soldiers marched through the monument after Paris was liberated from the Nazis.
The Louvre Museum, on the other hand, is often recognized by its giant glass pyramid. The museum houses over 480,000 works of art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Art isn’t the only thing that France has to offer. The country has a reputation for culinary excellence, and is home to 632 Michelin-starred restaurants, the most out of any country. Japan comes in at second, with 413.
While You’re There…
After seeing the sights in Paris, you may want to consider a visit to Spain. The country is the southern neighbor of France and is known for its beautiful villages and beaches.
One of its most impressive sights is the Sagrada Familia, a massive 440,000 square feet church which began construction in 1882, and is still being worked on today (139 years in the making). The video below shows the structure’s striking evolution.
At a height of 172 meters, the Sagrada Familia is approximately 52 stories tall.
Another popular spot is Ibiza, an island off the coast of Spain that is famous for its robust nightlife scene. The island is frequently mentioned in pop culture—Netflix released an adventure/romance movie titled Ibiza in 2018, and the remix of Mike Posner’s song I Took a Pill in Ibiza has over 1.4 billion views on YouTube.
If you’re looking for something outside of Europe, consider Mexico or Thailand, which are the 7th and 8th most popular travel destinations. Both offer hot weather and an abundance of white sand beaches.
If you need even more convincing, check out these links:
- The 13 Best Beaches in Mexico
- The Best Resorts in Mexico: 2021 Reader’s Choice
- The Best Night Markets in Bangkok, Thailand
- The Best Rooftop Bars in Bangkok
Under normal circumstances, hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year by international tourists. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTCC), this spending accounted for an impressive 10.4% of global GDP in 2019.
Travel restrictions introduced in 2020 dealt a serious blow to the industry, reducing its share of global GDP to 5.5%, and wiping out an estimated 62 million jobs. While the WTCC believes these jobs could return by 2022, the emerging Omicron variant has already prompted many countries to tighten restrictions once again.
To avoid headaches in the future, make sure you fully understand the rules and restrictions of where you’re heading.
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