Star Finder / Cherche-etoiles
Project Coordinator: Ron Macnaughton
Update: The RASC continues to produce and sell the Star Finder. It can be purchased in packages of 10 or 100 units from the eStore. Larger quantities are available using the bulk order form (see right).
The Star Finder is a planisphere which users can dial the date and time and see the pattern of the stars in the sky. The Star Finder Project was created by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy based on an earlier planisphere produced by the National Research Council Canada.
It is made of two pieces of card stock. It is printed in colour and cut to shape by the printer. The user only needs to fold the holder's flaps on the creases and place the round blue sky map into the holder. The flaps have instructions so that someone who has never used a planisphere before could find star patterns in the sky. The back of the star map and holder also has brief comments on 7 different topics (see below for more details).
The Star Finder was specifically designed to help beginners learn more about astronomy and help those with an interest to get more involved with the hobby.
RASC Centres and other partner IYA organizations in Canada will be provided with at least 60,000 Star Finders to hand out at IYA events in 2009 to help provide the "Galileo Moment". Event organizers are then asked to report back their attendance numbers so we can contribute towards the goal of 1,000,000 Galileo Moments across Canada. Another 30,000 were purchased by IYA partners, most of which we expect to be used during IYA.
The Star Finder is available in English and French (with the help of the FAAQ). A companion website has also been developed with a wealth of basic astronomy information. See links at right.
Image of Star Finder
Below is a low resolution scan of the Star Finder prototype printed on a colour laser printer and manually cut out.
Back of Star Wheel
The back of the Star Finder (below in two images) includes useful additional educational information and directs users to dedicated websites in both English and French (under development). These sites are being designed by Marc Keelan-Bishop, an RASC member and professional designer. He's using user-friendly graphics and layouts such as he used on the back of the star map. His website http://www.marcsobservatory.com has won an award.
Most topics on the Star Finder will have more information on the website, to give them more information about astronomy and to encourage them to get more involved. There will also be more details on how to use the Star Finder, including in the future a video explaining how to use it.
The "Observing Lists" section will describe the deep sky binocular objects which are shown as small circles on the star map. It will also mention several other RASC lists people could attempt. This gives a goal for observing and might encourage beginners to learn more about the sky, even if just with binoculars.
The "Schools and Youth Groups" section informs of the availability of a printer-friendly version of just the front of the holder and the star map (in black and white). It can be cut out with scissors and used the same as the pre-printed, pre-cutout version.
Light Pollution Information
Educational material about light pollution is also printed on the visible part of the back of the holder (see below).
When the star map is pulled out, this information can be read. There will be more information on the website.