BBC Stargazing LIVE Astronomy Week Part Four: How to use a sky chart

In our penultimate Astronomy Week article we show you how to get to grips with using a sky chart.


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1. Find your way

In the northern hemisphere, hold the chart above your head looking south (so that the top of the chart is pointing north), and vice versa for the southern hemisphere. Orientate the chart with the compass points and use a red light torch to view it so that your eyes remain adjusted to the darkness.

2. Track the sky

You’ll be familiar with constellations after a few nights. To find the planets, learn where the ecliptic line is (the curved line to the right of centre in this image). All the planets, and the Moon, sit close to this line, so you’ll be able to find them here.

3. Star hopping

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can use the star hopping technique to find more objects in the sky. Find a bright star and use it as a reference to locate dimmer deep sky objects nearby.

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