#5: You use a lot of strange symbols and fonts to label things in your sky charts. What do they all mean?

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:

<img src=”http://sky-lights.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/labels.jpg”>

Newer charts are created with Cartes du Ciel (Sky Chart) which uses its own symbols. Here’s an example:

<img src=”http://sky-lights.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/2016-05-16-S.jpg”>

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.