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In the night sky: Orion
In the night sky: Orion

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1.1 Map of the night sky

An image of an Orion star wheel.
Figure 2 Map of the night sky.

Before you get going, as on every well-prepared expedition, you need to take a map. In this case, though, the map is of the night sky. Two different versions of the map are available – either electronic or paper.

Stellarium

You can download the Stellarium software for Windows, Mac or Linux computers for free from the Stellarium website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Click on the appropriate operating system and wait for an option to save the file – don’t click on any buttons saying ‘download’. If you need help, look at the Stellarium User Guide.

Alternatively, you could purchase the app for your tablet or smartphone:

The app will show you what is (or will be) visible in the night sky on a particular date, at a particular time. You can overlay the image of the sky with the shapes of constellations and the names and pictures of the constellations also. You can use it throughout the course to find Orion and other constellations that are mentioned. It’s no substitute for going outside and seeing with your own eyes, though!

Star wheel

You can download and print out a copy of a star wheel from the PDFs below. Cut out where indicated and attach the two pieces together using staples.

Star wheel holder pdf

Star wheel constellation pdf

Set the top disc to the date and time you want to view, and the window will display the stars that will be in the sky.

Use whichever version you prefer. But it has to be robust, as you will be using it to travel billions of kilometres for millions of years!