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Title page of the Coelum Stellatum Christianum by Julius Schiller.

Celestial cartography,[1] uranography[2][3] or star cartography[citation needed] is the fringe of astronomy and branch of cartography concerned with mapping stars, galaxies, and other astronomical objects on the celestial sphere. Measuring the position and light of charted objects requires a variety of instruments and techniques. These techniques have developed from angle measurements with quadrants and the unaided eye, through sextants combined with lenses for light magnification, up to current methods which include computer automated space telescopes. Uranographers have historically produced planetary position tables, star tables and star maps for use by both amateur and professional astronomers. More recently computerized star maps have been compiled, and automated positioning of telescopes is accomplished using databases of stars and other astronomical objects.


The word "uranography" derived from the Greek "ουρανογραφια" (Koine Greek ουρανος "sky, heaven" + γραφειν "to write") through the Latin "uranographia". In Renaissance times, Uranographia was used as the book title of various celestial atlases.[4][5][6] During the 19th century, "uranography" was defined as the "description of the heavens". Elijah H. Burritt re-defined it as the "geography of the heavens".[7] The German word for uranography is "Uranographie", the French is "uranographie" and the Italian is "uranografia".


Main article: Astrometry

Star catalogues[edit]

Hyg-aqr.png Bay-aqr.png Aqr-kstars.png
Aquarius according to
Aquarius according to
Johann Bayer's Uranometria,
based on Rudolphine Tables
Aquarius according to

A determining fact source for drawing star charts is naturally a star table. This is apparent when comparing the imaginative "star maps" of Poeticon Astronomicon – illustrations beside a narrative text from the antiquity – to the star maps of Johann Bayer, based on precise star-position measurements from the Rudolphine Tables by Tycho Brahe.

Important historical star tables[edit]

Star atlases[edit]




  • 1914 Franklin-Adams Charts, by John Franklin-Adams, a very early photographic atlas.
  • The Falkau Atlas (Hans Vehrenberg). Stars to magnitude 13.
  • Atlas Stellarum (Hans Vehrenberg). Stars to magnitude 14.
  • True Visual Magnitude Photographic Star Atlas (Christos Papadopoulos). Stars to magnitude 13.5.


  • Bright Star AtlasWil Tirion (stars to magnitude 6.5)
  • Cambridge Star AtlasWil Tirion (Stars to magnitude 6.5)
  • Norton's Star Atlas and Reference Handbook – Ed. Ian Ridpath (stars to magnitude 6.5)
  • Stars & Planets GuideIan Ridpath and Wil Tirion (stars to magnitude 6.0)[9]
  • Cambridge Double Star Atlas - James Mullaney and Wil Tirion (stars to magnitude 7.5)
  • Cambridge Atlas of Herschel Objects - James Mullaney and Wil Tirion (stars to magnitude 7.5)
  • Pocket Sky Atlas – Roger Sinnott (stars to magnitude 7.5)
  • Deep Sky Reiseatlas – Michael Feiler, Philip Noack (Telrad Finder Charts – stars to magnitude 7.5)
  • Atlas Coeli Skalnate Pleso (Atlas of the Heavens) 1950.0 – Antonín Bečvář (stars to magnitude 7.75 and about 12000 clusters, galaxies and nebulae)
  • SkyAtlas 2000.0, second edition – Wil Tirion & Roger Sinnott (stars to magnitude 8.5)
  • 1987, Uranometria 2000.0 Deep Sky AtlasWil Tirion, Barry Rappaport, Will Remaklus (stars to magnitude 9.7; 11.5 in selected close-ups)
  • Herald-Bobroff AstroAtlas – David Herald & Peter Bobroff (stars to magnitude 9 in main charts, 14 in selected sections)
  • Millennium Star Atlas – Roger Sinnott, Michael Perryman (stars to magnitude 11)
  • Field Guide to the Stars and PlanetsJay M. Pasachoff, Wil Tirion charts (stars to magnitude 7.5)
  • SkyGX (still in preparation) – Christopher Watson (stars to magnitude 12)
  • The Great Atlas of the Sky – Piotr Brych (2,400,000 stars to magnitude 12, galaxies to magnitude 18).[10]


Free and printable from files[edit]

In fiction[edit]

The term "stellar cartography" was used in Star Trek: The Next Generation as the name of a department aboard the Starship Enterprise-D. It was also used in Star Trek: Voyager as the name of the department aboard the Starship Voyager. In both cases, the department was a subsection of the ship's science department, and, as the name would suggest, its responsibilities include charting previously uncharted regions of space as the ship passes through them, as well as operating the ship's astrometrics lab(s). In practice, at least on Voyager, this meant that Stellar Cartography was responsible for all sensor data collection and analysis other than for ship operations (navigation, cursory ship/planet scans, transporter operation, etc.) or combat.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Warner, D. J. (1979). The Sky Explored: Celestial Cartography 1500–1800. Amsterdam and New York: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Ltd. and Alan R. Liss, Inc. 
  2. ^ Lovi, G.; W. Tirion; B. Rappaport (1987). "Uranography Yesterday and Today". Uranometria 2000.0. 1: The Northern Hemisphere to – 6 degree. Willmann-Bell, Richmond. 
  3. ^ Lovi, G.; Tirion, W. (1989). Men, Monsters and the Modern Universe. Richmond: Willmann-Bell. 
  4. ^ 1690: Hevelius J., Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia.
  5. ^ c. 1750: Bevis J., Uranographia Britannica.
  6. ^ 1801: Bode. J. E., Uranographia sive Astrorum Descriptio.
  7. ^ Burritt, E. H., The Geography of the Heavens, 1833.
  8. ^ Dürer’s hemispheres of 1515 — the first European printed star charts
  9. ^ "Stars & Planets Guide", IanRidpath.com.
  10. ^ "The Great Atlas of the Sky", GreatSkyAtlas.com, December 1, 2009.
  11. ^ Stellarmap.com

External links[edit]

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