Celestial Maps v. 10

Brief Description

Celestial Maps v. 10 is an accurate charting software mapping large, small and very small astronomical charts under five projections. It runs 20 astronomical catalogues, organized in three database categories. It has been written in Borland Delphi 4 for Windows.

The software is very user friendly, including a simple main menu from which about 40 forms can be accessed to set the various functions of the program.

Three Main Projections

Based on the general planetarium or more professional charting requirements, the following main projections are available within Projection main menu to run charts with Celestial Maps:

  • The Polar Projection (all sky, North Pole in the centre);
  • The Zenithal Projection (all sky, given a place and a date/time);
  • The Equatorial Projection (large, small and very small FOVs).

    While the first two are intended to produce maps for planetarium purposes, the last is built to run professional charts using a few major astronomical catalogues.

    The Database

    Celestial Maps v.10 runs 20 astronomical catalogues, organized in three database categories:

    The small database (3 MB) includes the following catalogues:

  • SAO small database (about 25,000 stars up to magnitude 7.5);
  • Messier catalogue (110 deep sky objects);
  • COMET catalogue of the MPC (about 170 comets);
  • ASTORB (small asteroid database selected from ASTORB catalogue; about 900 minor planets up to the abs mag 10);
  • The FK5-SAO-HD Common Name Cross Index (170 star common names);
  • The Catalogue of the Brightest Stars (1376 Bayer/Flamsteed star names);
  • The Constellation Figures and their Boundaries (Delporte, IAU);
  • The Milky Way boundary;

    The large database (580 MB) includes the following professional catalogues:

  • SAO J2000 (about 250,000 stars up to about mag 10);
  • PPM (4 catalogues, about 500,000 stars up to about mag 11);
  • Tycho-2 (2 catalogues, about 2,500,000 stars up to about mag 12.5);
  • GSC 1.1 (about 18,000,000 stars and deep sky objects up to about mag 15.5);
  • NGC 2000 (NGC and IC catalogues of about 13,000 objects up to about mag 17).
  • ASTORB (large asteroid database including the full ASTORB catalogue, including more than 275,000 minor planets);

    The online database accessing the following professional catalogues:

  • GSC 2.2 (about 500,000,000 sources up to mag B=19.5);
  • 2MASS point sources (about 500,000,000 stars observed in the near-infrared up to about mag K=15.5);
  • USNO-A2 (more than 500,000,000 stars up to about mag V=20);
  • USNO-B1 (more than 1,000,000,000 sources up to about mag V=21);
  • The Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) atlas images.

    The online database has been introduced in version 10 to map very small field of view (FOVs) in the Equatorial Projection. To access it, Celestial Maps queries VizieR service at CDS (Centre de Donnees Astronomiques de Strasboug, France) or one its worldwide mirrors. To overlay atlas images on a very small FOV in the Equatorial Projection, Celestial Maps queries DSS (Digitized Sky Survey, first or second generation) at CADC (Canadian Astronomy Data Centre) or STScI (Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, US).

    The ASTORB and COMET databases can be built from the original catalogs downloaded from Minor Planet Center/Lowell Observatory. Beside the 2-Body model to calculate the Solar System ephemerides, since v.10 a very accurate Numeric Integrator based on the OrbFit code (Milani et al) has been added in the Equatorial Projection to provide sub-arcsec precision necessary for small and very small FOVs, also for more distant epochs.

    Additional to the three database categories, a Custom Database can be used to map any number of objects.

    Running Maps

    Once a query has been set based on the charting parameters (projection type, centre, field of view, catalogs, etc), a chart can be run via a main Run function, which can be accessed simply pressing F9 or from the Run main menu. Next, any parameter can be modified, then another chart can be re-plotted with F9 using the new values.

    At any time, the execution can be canceled pressing Escape key or using the Cancel Map function under the Run menu (for example useful to cancel a wrong execution of a large or online database of a large FOV).

    Since version 8, the equatorial coordinates can be mapped simply using the mouse. The user can easily re-centre a map on any given point using the mouse. Since version 10, the neighbour charts of a given field can be plotted simply using the the arrow keys. Also, the navigation has been improved using Back/Forward functions which can be activated using Alt+ (Left or Right) Arrow keys (similar to a internet browser).

    Saving and Loading Maps

    The mapping parameters can be saved any time within Maps/Save Map... menu (the extension is ".map"). Any saved map can be re-loaded later by opening the appropriate file using the main menu Maps/Open... Since version 10, the last chart run in a previous session can be loaded using Maps/Last function (or simply Ctrl+L).

    Getting Help

    Celestial Maps provides user with a complete documentation, being equipped with a user friendly help embedded within the software. Any time the help is available in one of the following modes:

  • Through the main Help functions (under the Help item on the main bar menu);
  • Locally, with each (sub)menu item, pop up the mouse without clicking then press F1;
  • Locally, within each form, click the Help button or press F1.

    Alternatively, a 65 pages RTF complete manual includes the entire help.

    Hardware Requirements

    During its entire 13 years of existence, we tried to keep the hardware requirements as low as possible. The following equipment is required to run Celestial Maps 10:

  • PC x86 or Pentium (min 486 or Pentium with 32MB RAM recommended);
  • Display xGA (min 15" SVGA at 800x600 with 2MB video memory recommended);
  • Windows XP, 2000, NT4, 98, 95;
  • Mouse (two buttons, strongly recommended);
  • Printer (jet/laser/color recommended);
  • Hard Space: 5 MB (small database) or 580 MB (full large database);
  • Internet connection (modem or cable, for Online Database & DSS Overlay functions).

    Installation Guide

    Shipped on a CD-ROM, two options are possible to run Celestial Maps:

  • To increase its flexibility, no installation program is provided. Simply copy the entire folder "Maps10" from the CD-ROM to any partition (could be placed within any folder). Moreover, if the hard disk space is limited, then a partial large database set can be copied (e.g. for SAO catalogue, only the folders "SAO" should be copied to the hard drive within Maps' "Data" folder). Upon copying, uncheck the Read-only attribute on the entire Maps10 directory on the hard drive (mouse right click, Properties, Attributes), to allow writing (where necessary).

  • If the hard disk space is limited, simply run the software directly from the CD-ROM.

  • Since version 9.0, the new function "Database\Directory" can run the (small database) program from the hard disk and access the large database from the CD-ROM.

    Version History

    Celestial Maps has been developed since 1992 by three Romanian professional astronomers and programmers now living in Canada, France and Romania. Reaching about 40,000 lines of code in version 10, it has been written in Turbo Pascal 6 & 7 (v. 1-5 for MSDOS) and Delphi 4 (v. 7-10 for Windows).

    The following link represents a brief version history including the main new functions added to the software.

    Screen Samples

    Click one of the above images or here to check 27 screenshots.

    References, Accomplishments, Patents

  • In April 1994 Celestial Maps 3.1 was patented by "La Maison de l'Astronomie Devaux-Chevet S.A", Paris, France - Astro News no. 37, 1994;

  • Since 1996 Celestial Maps 4.5 computer aided graphics the Astronomical Yearbook published by The Astronomical Institute and Romanian Academy Printing House in Bucharest, Romania;

  • In March 1998 Celestial Maps v.5.0 was included into the ASDS - Astronomical Software Documentation Service published with NASA Astrophysics Data Program.

  • In 2001 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) assigned the name Birlan to the asteroid 10034, for the contributions to the minor planets research of one of Maps' co-authors, Dr. Mirel Birlan.

  • In June 2001 two of us and Valentin Grigore, the president of the Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy (SARM) built and used Celestial Maps v.8.5 to edit the Map of the Northern Sky, a high-quality printed map to assist the amateur astronomer in learning the wonders of the sky.

  • Since Dec 2003, Celestial Maps 10 has become the only client software to serve (via VizieR) 2MASS, USNO-A2, USNO-B1 and GSC 2.2, the largest catalogs available today.

    Websites Listing Celestial Maps

  • Bill Arnett, SEDS;
  • Dan Bruton, Stephen Austin State University;
  • AstroTips, Hugo Valentim;
  • SkySoft, Carlo Baffa, Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri;
  • Quasar Publishing, Rob McIntyre;
  • Google (Science > Astronomy > Software > Desktop Planetarium and Charting section);
  • Jerry Pool Astronomy Software;
  • Cosmoweb Altri software freeware;
  • Stargazing Network;
  • World of Education;
  • 1st Virtual Meeting on Amateur Astronomy;
  • Seminaires Temps & Espace, IMCCE Paris;

    Download/Order the Software

  • Two older freeware versions are available online:

    > Download Celestial Maps v.5.0 (MS-DOS small database - 322KB archived auto-extract);
    > Download Celestial Maps v.8.0 (Windows 32, small database - 931KB archived auto-extract);
    > Also the following large databases (to be used only with v.8.0) can be downloaded:
        - SAO (19 archived files autoextract, about 7MB in total);
        - NGC 2000 (about 400KB archived);

  • To order Celestial Maps v.10, send an email to the main author. It costs 50 Euros or 70 US$, payable via Paypal, money order or checque. Includes the full package 580 MB on a CD-ROM, shipping and assistance.

  • Download the Help Manual (65 pages in RTF format 1.2 MB, including the full docummentation of the last version 10).


    I dedicate Celestial Maps to the memory of Carl Sagan, the first man who inspired me, with his famous Cosmos, the happiness to discover the sky and the advancement in astronomy.

    | Back to Celestial Maps |
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    Ovidiu Vaduvescu
    Astronomer, La Palma, Canary
    | ovidiuv@yahoo.com |