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This is essentially the same photo as on the previous page but with constellations marked on it.

Fish-eye view of the whole sky, showing the Milky Way

Canon EOS 5DMkII 15mm fisheye f/4.0 31x30s ISO 6400 2010-09-09 20:40:14-20:58:57 UT
From Rookhope 54.8N 2.1W 330m asl. Rural, almost no light pollution (3 Bortles)

In the centre, straddling the Milky Way, is the cross-shaped Cygnus. Other easily recognisable constellations are the smaller Lyra to the right of Cygnus and Hercules to the right of that. Ursa Major is in the top right corner and Ursa Minor is down and to the left of that, but with Draco weaving between them.

Further left from Ursa Minor, past Cepheus, is the W of Cassiopeia. An enlarged view of Cassiopeia is shown on the right here, cropped from the full-size original of the image above. From that you can see that the fish-eye lens records a huge amount of detail (in a 21 megapixel camera). It is the Sigma 15mm lens.

Stars are distributed fairly randomly but the human eye sees patterns. The patterns are meaningless but sometimes they clearly suggest recogniseable shapes. They are useful for finding our way around the sky and for telling others where things may be found.

Here is a link to an annotated version of the image above, with the constellation shapes outlined and named.

From here we will explore some of those constellations.


The conspicuous W shape of Cassiopeia makes it easy to find towards the North Celestial Pole. From the latitude of the UK the constellation is cirumpolar: it never sets. It is at its highest as an evening sight around December.

Link to photos of Cassiopeia and objects within it.


Cygnus is on the map above, as we have seen. Here is a link to a page of more detailed photos of areas of Cygnus.

 Orion & Monoceros

These neighbouring constellations were not visible when the photo forming the map above was taken. They rotate into view in winter evenings (in the Northern Hemisphere). They are just as full of interesting details as Cygnus. Here is a link to a page of photos of Orion and Monoceros.

 Ursa Major

The Plough, known to North Americans as the Big Dipper, is possibly the most well-known group of bright stars in the northern sky. Its seven stars are only part of a much larger constellation, the Great Bear (Latin: Ursa Major). The Plough forms the body and tail of the animal but strings of less bright stars form the head and legs. The constellation never sets from UK latitudes and is highest on April evenings. Being well away from the Milky Way this is a constellation in which interesting galaxies may be found and photographed.

Link to photos of Ursa Major and objects therein.

 Virgo & Coma Berenices

These two constellations are also not visible in the autumn but come around in the northern spring. They are far away from the plane of the Milky Way and so, with a clear view to greater distances, are full of distant galaxies. Here is a link to a page of photos.

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