The men and women who came up with the 88 officially-recognised constellations definitely had richer imaginations than I do. I don’t see animals, dragons and centaurs when I look at the night sky, and I’m generally OK with that. Still, when I came across this new celestial map, I got a small taste of the wonder the ancient Greeks must have felt gazing at the stars.
Designed by Future Mapping Company, The Constellations features every star observable to the naked eye in the northern and southern hemisphere by brightness and size. Layered on top of the cosmic landscape are illustrations of the constellations, scanned and digitally retouched from copper engravings by 17th century Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius. (A brewer turned scientist, Hevelius is best known for mapping the topography of the Moon, but clearly he had a knack for drawing mythical beings, too.)
Along with all the nebulae, star clusters and galaxies visible from Earth, the map blends artistry and science in a beautiful print that will look a bit too sophisticated next to my Star Trek posters but I don’t really care. Prints on paper, plastic or a magnetic sheet are on sale today beginning $US38 ($50), so if you have a space geek or 10 in your life, holiday shopping just got that much easier.