For millennia people have looked at the stars as a way of navigating across the oceans and land or to mark changes in the season. They have created the constellations as something familiar, safety beacons to guide them throughout their travels. Now you too can learn how to create a unique star system to help you put a familiar face to the night sky. Even if you can't officially register your new constellation for the world to see, your system will still be a hit with friends and family.
Part 1 of 3: Prepare Your Visualization
Step 1. Choose a clean, dark night
Choose a moonless night with as few clouds as possible. Also, try to minimize light pollution by staying away from street lights.
Step 2. Find a waterproof blanket
You will need something comfortable and waterproof to lie down while you gaze at the stars. Otherwise, the moisture from the soil below you can seep in, making your experience unpleasant.
Step 3. Take a small empty portrait frame
The night sky is filled with thousands of stars, as many as 2,500 to 5,000 that are visible to the naked eye. Looking through the portrait frame will help you capture a small portion of the stars above you into your vision.
Part 2 of 3: Create a Constellation
Step 1. Move the frame
Find the stars that are closer together. Brighter stars will be easier to find and will work better for you. Planets, the brightest objects in the night sky after the moon, can also do the trick.
Step 2. Look for patterns
Throughout history sailors and sailors have looked at the patterns that the stars make. See if you can group stars into a silhouette of a familiar object: a cat, a house, or a tree. If you've ever practiced looking at clouds, this is a similar process.
Step 3. Connect the dots
Now imagine that you are drawing straight lines between these prominent points in the sky. Can you see that the silhouette of your object is forming?
Step 4. Build an original star system
Diversify and try to create a new constellation instead of just copying an existing one. Bending the rules gives you the opportunity to be more creative!
Part 3 of 3: Register your new constellation
Step 1. Consult a star chart
Now that you have created a new star system you need to locate it in relation to an existing constellation in order not to lose sight of it. There are a number of star maps that you can refer to and print for reference. Perhaps you can see a portion of your new constellation within an existing one. If so, grab your flashlight, pen, and paper, and write down its position compared to a well-known grouping.
Step 2. Draw your constellation
With your flashlight, a pen and paper, begin to draw the stars in your constellation. Write down the brightest and dimmest stars and label them accordingly. Use larger dots for the largest stars and smaller dots for the duller ones. You may also want to draw lines between the points where the stars end to give your constellation its final shape.
Step 3. Give your constellation a name
Choose a title for your constellation. There are currently 88 constellations in use that astronomers have named. This leaves you thousands of possibilities to name it. So the sky is the limit!
- Remember that the location of the stars depends on where you are (the northern or southern hemisphere). The time of night and the season of the year can also influence the visibility and location of constellations.
- What's more, throughout the year some polar constellations, such as Ursa Major, rotate. So they may appear to be upside down or at an angle depending on the season.
- Learning how to track the known constellations across the night sky throughout the year will help you locate your own constellation.
- If you don't have an empty photo frame, you can create something similar from a piece of stiff cardboard. Just find a cardboard box and start cutting!
- Make up a legend of how each constellation was formed. Use your imagination.