How were star maps made in the past?

Although scientists have incredible imaging technology available to them today, many of the latest star maps are still matched up and enhanced with some of the imagery from Greek star maps and maps from other cultures of the past. Early star maps are treasured artifacts and they have become a part of man's early history in looking up at the sky in wonder.

Making the first star maps would have been an extremely tedious process and one of the oldest star maps in existence was produced in 650 A.D. in western China. The first star atlas was produced on a piece of paper hand-drawn from the view of the stars above a Temple Alcove. The original map was likely created by a gifted scholar and there were a series of sculptures, documents and maps that were likely all used to cross-reference the validity of the map in the future.

Star maps from the past allowed early societies to infer new parameters on the universe as well as see how the stars were changing. As there is a large gap between the creation of the first star map and other star maps that were discovered, we remained limited in otherworldly developments simply because we did not have the technology to view more of our stars.

When the first telescopes began in the early 1600s and Galileo began mapping the stars we started to gain a better understanding and more detailed maps. Through higher magnification we learn more about stars and we were able to identify new star systems that were not visible to the naked eye previously. Through coordination and observation, early astronomers would assemble maps together and analyze the position of objects in the sky interpreting them in hand-drawn maps.

Today, the processes has become much easier with the help of digital optics technology. In star maps today we can have references to the locations of various stars, planets and more and record this data for specific events or a perfect re-creation of the way the stars looked on a date.