There really aren’t that many to learn. Here’s a graphic summary explaining my labeling format for pre-2014 posts when all the charts were done by hand:
Newer charts are created with Cartes du Ciel (Sky Chart) which uses its own symbols. Here’s an example:
And here’s the key:
- Constellation names are in yellow.
- All other labels are in white (stars, planets, Moon, extended objects).
- The Moon is shown with its correct size and phase.
- Stars and planets are small white discs with larger sizes corresponding to greater brightness.
- Extended objects (star clusters, galaxies, asterisms, nebulae) are large colored discs or ellipses.
- The Milky Way is shown in a lighter blue compared to the rest of the sky.
Additional annotations are added as needed: star names, indicator circles or arrows, photographs of objects. Sometimes so many objects are displayed that readers might need a little help finding what’s relevant.