Lawrence Hall of Science logo

Uncle Al's Sky Wheels

Here is an astronomical tool that will help you find constellations of stars and other things in the sky. All you need to do is download the Starwheel file (PDF; 1.2 Mb), print them, cut them out, and assemble them following the directions that are on the printout.

If necessary, get Adobe pdf reader software


Once you have your star wheel in hand, directions below on how to use it will make sense...

Star Wheel Explanation

How to Use the Sky Wheel

To find a constellation in the sky using the Star Wheel, follow these steps:

1. Set date and time of night: Rotate the Star Wheel in the Star Holder until your desired time of night lines up with the desired date.

2. View it right-side up: For the constellation you want to find, note which horizon it is closest to. Orient the Star Wheel Holder so that horizon is at the bottom. Then
that part of the sky will look right-side up to you. For example, if your constellation is closest to the northern horizon, flip the Star Holder upside down so that you are reading northern horizon at the bottom of the oval.

3. Note how high the constellation is in the sky: Is the constellation closer to the zenith (center of the map) or closer to the horizon?

4. Memorize the shape of the constellation.

5. Then look for the constellation in the sky and find it!

Uncle Al's Sky Wheels were created by the LHS Hands-On Universe project.

These Sky Wheels are based on the Sky Challenger.
For latest versions and new wheels see Uncle Al's Sky Wheels.

See also Uncle Al's Kepler Star Wheels, that show where there are naked-eye stars with extra-solar planets—also the NASA Kepler mission target area of the sky.

...And the LHS Star Clock page.

Lawrence Hall of Science logo

© 2005 by the Regents of the University of California