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Star Maps for Kids

stargazing charts for kidsOne of the first tools for a potential stargazer is a star chart. These can be found in monthly magazines, but there are also books and instruments to identify objects in the night sky. Those in magazines are useful in the month published.

As the earth revolves in its yearly route around the sun, the sky changes from our point of view, and an astronomer needs a reference to know what and where to look to properly identify an object. Sky charts are made for the North and South hemisphere as well as different latitudes to correctly identify the sky.

There are several star chart books published that offer similar information. The ones listed here are good for the young or beginning astronomer.

Star charts

The most useful charts are made to be used at night while observing the heavens. The plastic star chart, or planisphere, is best for field work. Laminated are also acceptable for durability. A large star chart is good for better visibility when in the dark. These star charts don’t have all information because of size and legibility. Printers leave off some deep space and other astronomical objects.

Star charts are also published as books. These are good for classroom use as they contain additional information not included on a rotating. Users complain that these books aren’t detailed enough on Kindle or similar products. They are best in book form.

Stargazer Guide Books and Kits

These are sometimes bound in a spiral format which allows them to lie flat. Amateur astronomers recommend using some of these books with a pair of binoculars before purchasing a telescope. Some of these stargazing books are better suited as a complete reference than a field guide. These are two kits that supply the beginning stargazer the necessary equipment for the hobby and for a good basis to start stargazing. They items are a great buy for the beginning astronomer and a recommend place to start. The only complaint may be that the planisphere, or adjustable star chart, is a bit smaller than ideal. With one of these kits and a decent pair of binoculars, the budding astronomer is off and running.

Orion Stargazer Toolkit

The Orion Stargazer Toolkit contains the book, Discover the Stars, Star Target Planisphere, Moon Map book, and an aviator’s flashlight. Discover the Stars by Richard Berry contains sky maps and charts. It also explains how to use the plainsphere, or adjustable star chart, information about telescopes, stargazing and information on the universe. The Moon Map identifies the craters and features on the moon. The Orion kit by Discovery also contains an aviator’s flashlight. The aviator’s flashlight, or stargazers flashlight is used by people who need light to see in the dark. A white light requires the eyes to readjust to the dark after using, and the red light doesn’t require readjustment. This may be a necessary piece of equipment on an outing with an astronomy club.

Constellation maps for kidsAstro-Pack

Astro-Pack has a Star Finder, Star Chart, Night Sky and Planisphere in a boxed kit. This is a recommended purchase before getting a telescope. The Night Sky through your Telescope contains basic information for the new astronomer, and includes information of star photography, the best telescope accessories, how to use the planisphere or star chart, and how to set up the telescope. It’s great for kids starting out as an amateur astronomer and a good buy before getting a telescope.

Star map for kidsGuide To The Stars

This was previously known as David H. Levey Guide to the Stars. This is a 16 inch diameter star gazing chart or planisphere. It is made for 30 to 60 degrees North observation, which includes North America, Canada, England, Europe, Japan and Northern China. Simply rotate the top portion to align stars with the current month, day and time to see the location of stars, constellations and other astronomical features. It contains information on both sides of the star chart. Guide to the Stars is designed for kids, but it also contains complete enough information for more seasoned stargazers to use.

Sixteen inches is a nice size star chart for instructional or field use as a group can cluster around it to discuss and view the subject. Guide to the Stars is also made in an 11 inch version, a cardboard kids star chart and an equatorial version for stars seen around the equator.

The author, David H. Levey, has discovered 8 comets using personal backyard telescopes.

 Constellation maps for kidsTurn Left at Orion: Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope – and How to Find Them

Turn Left at Orion: Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope – and How to Find Them is an all-time most popular astronomy book. New editions include updates to the charts, information on photography and equipment and updated charts for natural occurrences such as lunar and solar eclipses. It has a spiral binding which makes it easier for field use. Users like the features that show what the object will look at through different scopes. This is an excellent book for a beginning astronomer that can be used for years.

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*Top star photo by Marjan Lazarevski, Flickr

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