Star-Map Guide to create your own map in 6 Steps
A map of the starry night sky on one special date – what a perfect gift for an anniversary or engagement! You´ve probably seen pictures of these Star Maps on Instagram and Pinterest or perhaps you came across one of our Facebook videos. The constellations in their precise positions on one significant date – right down to the exact hour!
Did you know you could actually create your own star map for free? (Well, apart from buying the materials and your precious time). Of course, the easiest way would be to design it online and have it printed professionally by Under Lucky Stars here. This is a quick option and you are guaranteed quality printing and verified astronomic accuracy. However, if you like DIY or Arts n’ Crafts projects this one is for you.
Here is the complete step-by-step guide on how to make your own star map in just 6 steps.
First of all, you need to prepare your materials. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Microsoft Word or similar text editor
- Pencil or Pen
- Large paper card, e.g. black or white
- And of course, a computer & printer!
1. Lat-Long Research
First of all, we are going to need to figure out the latitude and longitude coordinates for the place where we want to map the stars. Go to this website and put in the city name and postal code for the most accurate results. Where do you want your star map to represent? The idyllic location of your Wedding, or a memorable move into your first home...just fire the address into the search bar and you will get the exact coordinates we need!
In my case it was 41.382490 Latitude and 2.173620 Longitude.
Scroll on down and get the exact GPS coordinates too (I got 41° 22' 56.964'' N 2° 10' 25.032'' E).
2. A Little Astronomy
This is where the magic happens. At Under Lucky Stars we have developed our own star charting algorithms that we audited with a third party. However, there are free programs available online that can do this for you. I went with Your Sky, a free tool, available under this link.
This site takes times in UTC (Universal Time), so you need to work out the time zones. To figure out the time difference between UTC and your observation location from Step 1, you can use a site called Time.is, and their Time zone converter tool. Input your location, select the date and time, then in the "Other locations" section write UTC and hit Compare.
From this you can work out the Universal time of your desired moment to map and input it to the "Date and Time" section of Your Sky.
Next, you are going have to input the coordinates you got in Step #1 into the "Observing Site" section. Copy and paste to avoid typos! Also, remember to choose North or South for Latitude and East or West for Longitude.
3. It's All About the Looks
In the settings of Your Sky below the date and time input, select any additional visual elements you'd like, and select a reasonably large image size. For the best resolution we recommend at least 150 pixes per inches of print width (our professional maps are printed at 300 DPI). For instance, for printing on an A4 paper you'd need at least 1200 pixel wide image.
White on black or vice versa? The choice is yours! Make your selection and then hit the Update button located above the inputs to see your star map! Check through the information very carefully. Is that definitely the right date? Are you sure it was North not South? Once you have made the final edits, right click on the map and save it to your desktop.
4. Print Your Star Map
If you are using your own printer to print your star map the best thing to do is insert it into a Microsoft Word document or any other text editor. Play around with the margins and enlarge it as much as you can. The easiest would be to set all your custom margins to zero and make the most of the space. Are you ready to print? You could just hit CTRL+P.
The best thing to do however would be to source your local printing shop. This gives you options for better quality paper and larger than your average printer A4 size. You have a myriad of ways to go. Choose to go all the way to a large poster size (our largest is 24x36 inches) on gloss paper, heavy silk or recycled papers. This could set you back anything between a couple of dollars to over $100 for certain sizes and sheets. For all the care you are putting in here it could be worth the extra penny!
5. Customize Your Star Map
Here is where you get pretty free rein. You can, for example, cut out your map and paste it onto a colorful card. At this point you can add text with a marker, apply stickers or glitter and just go crazy. You can even combine the map with printed photos or newspaper cutouts.
6. Frame It
Framing won't be free unless you have the right sized frame lying around. You can find econimical poster frames on Amazon or in IKEA. When you're done, hang it somewhere where it gets the deserved attention. Et voila! You have just made your very own Star Map.
Total Time: 5 hours*
Total Cost: $45
* Based off a reasonable pace of work (don’t break your your neck or fall asleep) and mid-range prices of printing and frames.
For the Best Results Trust the Professionals
Of course, if this all sounds terribly complicated or you hit a roadblock like running out of paper ink halfway through, getting confused by the astronomy math or figuring out the time zones, you can always order one of our professionally made, astronomically verified and high-end printing quality star maps here. We won’t tell anyone!
Watch our video to see how easy it is:
And look how beautiful it is:
You can see more on our Instagram.