Charting the Heavens

A Python Project to Chart the 88 Constellations

Over the last several years, whenever I had some spare time, I worked on a little project to chart the 88 constellations in Python. I was heavily inspired by several different people online. Most of the impetus came from the work of two different people: Eleanor Lutz’s western_constellations_atlas_of_space and Péter Pápics' Leuven Star Atlas. Those two existing projects (the latter being on an indefinite hiatus) really helped me out, both with their code and their knowledge of existing databases.

I have also always been interested in the mythology and history of the constellations, and I wanted some way to incorporate that. I decided that these charts could be the impetus for writing up an “Observer’s Guide” to the constellations, complete with information about the history/mythos, meteor showers, stars, and deep sky objects for each constellation. This part of the project probably took the longest, but eventually I got it done!

Below is a small gallery of a few constellations so you can get an idea of what the charts look like. I tried to emulate the Sky & Telescope charts that are found on the Wikipedia pages for each constellation. The full Python code, databases used, and all the discussion can be found on my GitHub page. The “Observer’s Guide” can also be found there as a PDF. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

Ray Garner
Ray Garner
TAMU Astronomy Postdoctoral Researcher

I’m a scientist, Star Wars fan, and amateur photographer raised in Georgia. My research interests include galaxy evolution, star formation, satellite galaxies, and nebular diagnostics.