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Recently, I was working on my fantasy world's zodiac, when I realized that I still hadn't worked out how the constellations were supposed to fit together in the night sky. This caused me a good deal of consternation. I've been experimenting a lot since then, but I simply don't know how to go about making a star chart. So I ask you all:

What would be the best way for me to make a star map?

Yes, I know a program would make it much easier, and I would appreciate whatever software suggestions you have, but I'm specifically looking for how to make the maps using pencil and paper. Being able to access and scribble on my star maps without having to print them off would be very useful.

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    $\begingroup$ Good and best are opinion based qualities that render this question too open ended and subjective to be a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jul 25 at 3:25
  • $\begingroup$ This is not a place to solicit suggestions. A question here must have a specific answer. Please consider placing your question in the Sandbox so it can be formatted in a way suitable for this site. $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Jul 25 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Vogon Poet My apologies, I thought that a question fishing for worldbuilding processes would be appropriate. Also, thank you for directing me to the sandbox. I am new on the site, and I don't know about things like that yet. $\endgroup$
    – Alkamede
    Jul 26 at 0:45
  • $\begingroup$ You're welcome. There are some places devoted to the creative process, where you can discuss ideas and tools, but this site is strictly for problem solving within your world. The world must exist and have a solvable single problem. Then this community can provide expert help in solving it. $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Jul 26 at 1:57

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Draw it on a globe

The thing with a star map is that every zodiac constellation is clearly visible only one time during the year, (meaning that the star maps moves). The only place with stable stars are to the north (i.e. the North Star) and to the extreme south (i.e. the Southern Cross).

To mimic this effect using paper and pencil, a three dimensional object would be best. The inside of a globe would be perfect, (i.e. yes, paint the inside of a gigantic sphere) but if you want a quick and dirty solution because doing that is too much trouble (for some reason), the outside of sphere is pretty similar. Just rotate the globe to get a good idea of what the direct image of the stars moving along would look like, but this is only a good approximation towards the zodiac constellations, again, the celestial north stars (again, North Star) can't really be represented with this model.

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    $\begingroup$ "Every zodiac constellation is clearly visible only one time during the year": At moderate latitudes, that, everywhere except polar regions, about half of them are plainly visible every night -- about four or five of them in summer, seven or eight of them in winter. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jul 25 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't say 'plainly', I said 'clearly', meaning visible directly overhead. I know how stargazing works. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Jul 25 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ The zodiacal constellations can ever be directly overhead only between the tropics, and even there not all the time. For example at 45 degrees latitude a zodiacal constellation can never be higher than 68 degrees, and that only in winter. And anyway, the celestial sphere rotates. During a notional 12 hour night, six consecutive zodiacal constellations will culminate, one after the other. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jul 25 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ Hence the globe suggestion. Because you can rotate a globe. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Jul 25 at 18:24
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Night time satellite maps!

USA!

the us at night

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/NPP/news/earth-at-night.html

Europe!

europe

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/images/712130main_8246931247_e60f3c09fb_o.jpg

You need random stars. These are not stars of course and they are not random. But as far as an assortment of bright points they are a fine place to start. Then you can use them to draw your constellations.

The good thing about using nighttime maps of real places is that you can print up maps, write on them with pencil, and if you dont like it print up another one. You can use only the biggest cities or additonal depending on how many stars you want. Maybe the regions will give you ideas for the constellations.

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