Construct your own Star Finder - Star Chart. Calibrated for New Jersey latitude and useful throughout the year, this star chart will bring many hours of nocturnal enjoyment.
- 3 sheets of heavy card stock paper
- Computer printer
- Small brass push-pin
- 2 lengths of sewing thread or fishing line (7 and 10 inches long)
- Clear dark skies!
- For best results, print the following pages on heavy card stock paper. Adobe Acrobat reader is required to view and print the files. To print any of the documents below, use the printer icon immediately above the document window (after you've opened the document, it will appear in the Adobe Acrobat toolbar). Do not use the File/Print function within your Web browser.
- Cut out each image on the lines.
- Push the brass push-pin through the X in the center of the STAR CHART and then through the X in the center of the BACK page. Spin the wheel until it spins freely.
- Cut out the center black area of the FRONT page then carefully fold the labelled lines down.
- Slip the CHART and BACK piece into the folds of the FRONT piece. Carefully staple the three labelled corners.
- Tie one piece of string from the east to west staples and the other from the south staple to the push-pin in the center.
Instructions for Use:
The FRONT piece has hours listed along the rounded edge. The CHART features an annual calendar. Turn the CHART so that the time you are out observing and the date line up. Hold the chart over your head with the North arrow facing north. What you see in the star field is what you can see in the sky.
The vertical line from the center to the south staple represents your Meridian, or the line of longitude that runs south from the North Star over your location on the earth. The place where the two strings cross is called your Zenith, or the spot in the sky directly over your head.
To check for accuracy, set the chart for 9:00 pm on August 11th. The bright star Vega, in the constellation Lyra, should be under or extremely close to your Zenith. (Incidentaly, August 11th is during the annual Perseid meteor shower, so stay out for a few hours and enjoy the show.)
Using an old cereal box, you can create a Light-Shielding Viewer to block out any ambient light in your area and make viewing easier. The viewer can also fit a pair of binoculars inside! Click HERE to download a PDF template of the viewer.
General public, organizations, educators, students of all ages
Marc Rogoff, Environmental Education Specialist
NJDEP, Office of Communications
P.O. Box 402 Trenton, NJ 08625