Brief Description

Celestial Maps v.9.0 is an astronomical software that produces accurate maps of the sky in five types of projections. It has been written in Borland Delphi 4 for Windows 32 bits.

The software is very user friendly, a main menu being visible at any time on the top bar under the application title. Beside the application's main form, other 38 forms set the various functions of the program.

All the forms are easily accessible using the mouse or the keyboard. This can be done in three possible ways:

  • Point and click to the main menu's items;
  • Using shortcut key combinations written nearby each menu item;
  • Using "F" hot keys (for the main functions of the program).

    The Database

    Celestial Maps v.9.0 runs 15 astronomical catalogues, organized in a Small Database up to the magnitude 7.5 or a Large Database including four professional star catalogues (SAO, PPM, GSC and Tycho), two catalogs of asteroids and comets (ASTORB and COMETS), and two deep sky catalogues (Messier and NGC2000).

    These catalogs add together about 22 millions of entries including stars up to magnitude 15, deep sky objects up to magnitude 17, and asteroids and comets as faint as the absolute maximum magnitude 20.

    The small database 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 (more than 300 comets);
  • ASTORB (small asteroid database selected from ASTORB catalogue;
    more than 800 minor planets up to the absolute magnitude 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 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 175,000 minor planets);

    The COMET and ASTORB databases can be updated building the new database from the original files downloaded from the Internet (courtesy of Minor Planet Center and Lowell Observatory). The star common names and their Bayer & Flamsteed names catalogues are customizable. Also any number of files including any number of objects can be customized using a built-in Custom Database function.

    Three Main Projections

    Three main types of projection are the most important items to run charts with Celestial Maps. Available within Projection main menu item, these are:

  • The Polar Projection;
  • The Zenithal Projection;
  • The Equatorial Projection.

    While the first two are intended to produce maps for general (planetarium) purposes, the last one is built to run professional charts using 15 major astronomical catalogues.

    Running Maps

    There are three possibilities to run maps:

  • Using the keyboard, press F9;
  • Using the keyboard, press "Alt+R", then "R";
  • Using the mouse, click Run, then Run Map.

    Any time using one of these options, a new chart will be plotted (re-drawn) accordingly to the actual values of the mapping parameters. Then any parameter can be modified (using the menu items or the forms), and another chart can be re-plotted with the new values.

    Any time the mapping execution can be canceled by pressing "Escape" or clicking Run/Cancel Map (this function is especially good when querying a very large field with Large Star Database on a slow computer).

    Saving and Loading Maps

    All the mapping parameters can be saved any time within Maps/Save Map... menu item by typing a name of the chart in the File Name edit box (the automate extension is ".map").

    Any saved map can be loaded later by opening the appropriate ".map" file from the main menu Maps/Open....

    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.

    Hardware Requirements

    The following equipment is required to run Celestial Maps 9.0:

  • 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 95, 98, 2000, NT4 or any later version;
  • Mouse (two buttons, strongly recommended);
  • Printer (jet/laser/color recommended);
  • Hard Space: 4 MB (small database) or 560 MB (full large database);

    Installation Guide

    Available a CD-ROM, the following two options are possible:

  • To increase its flexibility, no installation program is available. Simply copy the entire folder "Maps90" 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).

  • If the hard disk space is limited, simply run the software directly from the CD-ROM (just enter the folder "Maps90" and double click the icon "Maps.exe").

    As with 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

    Soon to celebrate its 10 years birthday anniversary, Celestial Maps has been developed since 1992 by three enthusiasts professional astronomers and programmers now living in Canada, France and Romania.

    Reaching about 25,000 lines of code, it has been written in Turbo Pascal 6 & 7 (for MSDOS) and Delphi 4 (for Windows). The following link represents a brief version history including the main functions of the software.

    Screen Samples

  • Polar projection with planetary animation;
  • Zenithal projection for a given place and time;
  • Equatorial projection with small star database;

  • Equatorial projection with large database (GSC catalogue & asteroids);
  • Equatorial projection with large database, asteroids animation, screen scale 1.5;

  • Search constellations by common name;
  • Search deep sky objects by catalogue number;
  • Search comet by name or number;
  • Search stars by catalogue numbers;

  • Total Solar eclipse, Aug 11, 1999;
  • Dance of the planets, Apr-May 2002;
  • Grazes and Moon occultations from a given place;

  • Zooming in a crowded field;
  • Basic astrometry: measuring coordinates and angular separations;
  • Getting information about stars using object info function and the help;

  • Using custom fonts;
  • Using custom colours;
  • Building custom database;

  • Output file sample containing stars selected through a map query;
  • Sample from the Map of the Northern Sky by SARM.

  • References, 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.

    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);
  • "dmoz" open directory project (we liked the adjective "rudimentary" there :)
  • Jerry Pool Astronomy Software;
  • Cosmoweb Altri software freeware;
  • Stargazing Network;
  • World of Education;

    Download/ Order the Software
  • 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);

  • Order Celestial Maps v.9.0 (the full package 550 MB on a CD-ROM, 50 US$ incl mailing & assistance);
  • Download the Help Manual (111 KB, including the full docummentation for the last version 9.0).


    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.

    | My Astronomical Software List |
    | My Astronomical CV |

    Ovidiu Vaduvescu
    Astronomer, La Palma, Canary
    | ovidiuv@yahoo.com |