Can you help me find a star?

We often receive email messages asking for help finding a star. In this post we will give instructions for displaying an image of a star in SkyView, as well as provide further tips for finding the star on a star chart and determining the star’s constellation and one final note about purchasing a star.

Instructions for generating an image of a star:

1. To generate an image in SkyView you’ll need a set of coordinates – the star’s right ascension and  declination.  These are the stellar equivalent of the latitude and longitude on the Earth. These may be in various formats but the RA usually is given as three numbers – hours, minutes and seconds.  The first is between 0 and 23, the second between 0 and 59 and the third between 0 and 60.  The third number, the seconds, may  contain a fractional part.  The Declination is similar, but the the first number can range between -90 and 90 and is called degrees not hours.

For SkyView these coordinates may need to be converted to a format containing just hours, minutes, seconds or decimal numbers.  They can be separated by a comma or the sign for the declination (more information)

An example of a set of coordinates:    RA: 6h 39m 15.70s DEC: 2 16′ 22.7″

The SkyView format of this set of coordinates would be:

6 39 15.70, 2 16 22.17   or   6 39 15.70 +2 16 22.17

Coordinates in this format can be used in the SkyView Query form.

Enter the coordinates in the Coordinates or Source input box.


2. Next a SkyView Survey needs to be selected.  The SkyView Query form provides many surveys in many wavelengths.  Typically someone trying to find a star will want to see how it appears in the night sky so an optical survey is best.  The best survey to start with is the Digital Sky Survey (DSS) which is at the top of our DSS survey category.


3. Once at least one  survey is selected and coordinates are entered the user can click the Submit button and an image of the sky centered on the coordinates will be displayed.

Below is a partial  image of the SkyView Query Form showing the coordinates entered in the Coordinates or Source box and the DSS survey selected.  Below the form is an image of the star that displays after the form is submitted.

 SkyView Query Form

SkyView Query Form

DSS image at 6 39 15.70 +2 16 22.17

SkyView Image centered at 6 39 15.70 +2 16 22.17

The SkyView Query Form has many other options for manipulating the SkyView image to change image size, image colors, resampling, projections, coordinate systems or to add contours and other overlays.  These are just a few of SkyView‘s features.

Related Tips:

There are many websites that provide sky charts for a particular location and information about constellations.  Here are two of these sites  we have found useful:

http://djm.cc/constellation.html: A simple form that displays the name of the constellation for specified coordinates

http://vizier.u-strasbg.fr/vizier/VizieR/constellations.htx#q: Displays boundaries for constellations.  Enter coordinates below the list of constellations.

http://www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky: Get images of entire sky as viewed from a given location at a specified time and date.  Their Virtual Telescope shows constellations and other objects at specified coordinates.

http://www.heavens-above.com:  Get sky charts and satellite schedules as seen from specified locations. This site also gives the time in various time zones/formats (local time, GMT, UTC)

A Final Note:

Many of these requests for help finding a star come from people who have purchased or received a gift of a star from a registry service. No star registry services are recognized by any political or  scientific authorities.  More information can be found at http://www.iau.org/public/buying_star_names/

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131 Responses to Can you help me find a star?

  1. Tracey says:

    Good Afternoon. Many years ago (about 8) my daughter & I named a star after her. Sadly February 2015 my 16 year old daughter unexpectedly passed away. How could I go about trying to find her star?

  2. Laura says:

    Hello,
    We are truly sorry for your loss.

    We are not associated with the companies through which star names are sold. However, if you look through your emails or other correspondence and find the coordinates of the star that the company sent to you we can certainly help you create an image of the star.

    Sincerely,
    Laura

  3. Matthew says:

    I am trying to look for a star i nave after my first love

    coordinates
    RA 0039m38.45
    +14 10’23.7″

    can you help me please

  4. Laura says:

    The format to use in SkyView for these coordinates is: 00 39 38.45, 14 10 23.7

    Quick directions:

    – Start at the SkyView Query Form http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/query.pl

    – Enter your coordinates in the Coordinates or Source: box as:

    00 39 38.45, 14 10 23.7

    – Select DSS or one of the other surveys in the Optical:DSS list.

    – Click the Submit button and an image of the sky centered on your coordinates will be displayed.

    I hope this helps,
    Laura

  5. Simon Minc says:

    Happy Thanksgiving. I have entered all of the relevant info in my Skyview Query form. I was hoping to see more than I did. Perhaps not Star Trek graphics, but something with colour. Which survey options should I choose? I don’t speak star language, sorry. “Eternally Alex” is at 9 52 14.0, 60 11 I see faint blurry images, but was hoping for more. Any help would be appreciated.

  6. Laura says:

    H Simon,
    I am afraid none of the other surveys will supply more detail but you might look at the 2MASS surveys and the WISE 3.4 survey under Infrared High Res. Color tables are located in the Other Options section below the surveys. Stern Special is a nice one.

  7. uknown says:

    First time ive been on here and I need to know da properties

  8. Laura says:

    Hello,

    Here is some documentation to get you started:
    http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/current/help/faq.html
    http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/current/help/fields.html

    Please let me know if you have specific questions and I will be happy to help.

    Regards,
    Laura

  9. Cheynll says:

    How can I find RA 146.92274369 and declination -30.56445202?
    Please I need help.

  10. Laura says:

    Hello,
    Try entering the coordinates as 146.92274369,-30.56445202
    Select DSS under the Optical: DSS section (or any other SkyView survey)

    http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/current/cgi/query.pl

    I hope this helps.
    Laura

  11. Courtney says:

    So I was able to use the query and find my star, but I am looking to print a decent (4×6) picture of my star to put in the frame with the map & the certificate I have for the star. What is the best way to get a decent quality image & when I change the pixel size on the query does it move the placement of my star on the image when it appears? Thank you in advance for your help.

  12. Laura says:

    Hello Courtney,
    I would play with the “Image Size (pixels)” in the “Common Options” section and the “Brightness Scaling” and “Pixel Resampling” in the “Other Options” section of the SkyView Query Form (http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/current/cgi/query.pl) to try to get the best image for printing. Just increase the image size to a size like 2000,3000 or 4000,6000 and then try changing the brightness scaling and pixel resampling options to get a better contrast for printing. The Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) has the best sky coverage but may not be the best resolution. The SDSS has better resolution but the coverage may not include the star that you are trying to print.

    I hope this helps.
    Laura McDonald
    SkyView

  13. Jen Hinkle says:

    Hi
    I named 3 stars for my children and would like to print a picture showing the three together (they form a triangle) How can I do that? The coordinates are…
    17 19 29, 33 59 46.7
    17 21 19.6, 34 17 15.5
    17 19 20.4, 34 9 5

    Thank you for any help you can give me.

  14. Laura says:

    Hi Jen,

    Start at the SkyView Query form http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/current/cgi/query.pl

    Enter the coordinates that you wish to be at the center of the image into the “Coordinates or Source” box. You can enter any one of the stars’ coordinates or you can choose coordinates somewhat in between the three like 17 20 25.45 +34 07 50.4

    SkyView’s default image field of view for DSS is not large enough to fit all three stars so I would enter .6 in the Image Size(degrees) box.

    Choose DSS from the “Optical:DSS” survey and then click the “Submit” button.

    The resulting image displays all three stars. When you mouse over the image the coordinates of the mouse pointer are shown below the image.

    You may want change image values to have an aspect ratio more like a photo and to increase the size. An example would be to enter 1200,900 into the “Image Size(pixels)” box and 1,.66 in the “Image Size (degrees)” box. Click the Submit button.

    You can also play with the values in the “Other Options” section. Changing the “Brightness Scaling” to Linear should increase the contrast of the image.

    Below are images I made using the size values I mention above.

    The 2nd image indicates where the 3 stars are. (The markings were not created within SkyView)

    http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/skyview_gsfc_nasa_gov_image_4x3.jpg

    http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/skyview_gsfc_nasa_gov_image_4x3_marks.jpg

    I hope this helps.

    Regards,
    Laura McDonald
    SkyView

  15. Gld says:

    Trying to locate star Lynx RA 7 h, 52m, 19.66s, D 58 40 12.32. Any help would greatly appreciated. Thank you

  16. Laura says:

    Hello,
    Enter your coordinates as 7 52 19.66, 58 40 12.32 at the SkyView query page http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/current/cgi/query.pl

    Select the DSS survey (or any other survey) and then click the Submit button

    Regards,
    Laura
    SkyView

  17. Lisa says:

    I have the coordinates 8 19 33 42+ 14 44.70 I know it’s n the sky but is it over land or water. Idk much about this. Where is located above earth besides in the sky. Thanks

  18. Laura says:

    The Your Sky site https://www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky/ might help you locate the star in the sky. The The Virtual Telescope section will allow you to see in which constellation the star is located. You can enter your city in the Sky Map section to see the current map of the sky in your area.

    Note that the coordinates you listed do not appear to be in the correct format. You may want to double check them before your search.

    Regards,
    Laura McDonald

  19. Sam says:

    I have managed to find the square in which my star is but there are loads in that square. How do I know which one it is? Thank you!

  20. Laura says:

    Hello Sam,

    The image is centered on the coordinates you entered in the SkyView query form so the star should be in the center.

    I hope this helps.

    Laura
    SkyView

  21. James Contos says:

    I entered my RA and DEC coordinates with a DSS survey. It did find the star however how do I zoom out so I can see where in relationship this star is to other known objects?

  22. Stephen lionheart says:

    Would you believe it?
    This page was the top Google result for “ra Dec where do I look?”

    It would be nice to have a link to somewhere giving me a clue as to whether Ra Dec is above or below the ground at least…
    I am a long way from my PC, so running a program on that doesn’t really help. But I do have a programmable calculator to hand.

  23. Laura says:

    Hello James,
    You can increase the area displayed in the SkyView image by increasing the Image Size (degrees) value in the Common Options section on the SkyView form (http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/current/cgi/query.pl). The default size for DSS images is .14 degree. Please note that the DSS is a high resolution survey and displaying larger images may take a fair amount of time. You might want to take a look at the Your Sky website (http://www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky/). In The Virtual Telescope section you can enter the coordinates and zoom in and out to see what stars, planets, constellations, etc are nearby.

    I hope this helps.

    Laura McDonald
    SkyView

  24. Laura says:

    Hello Stephen,

    You might take a look at the Your Sky website (http://www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky/). This site will allow you to see sky maps and horizon views using ra/dec and your location.

    I hope this information helps.

    Regards,
    Laura McDonald
    SkyView

  25. Andrew says:

    I wonder is there any online database of names of celestial objects browsable by coordinates with some sort of search engine?

    Let’s say I’ve been browsing DSS images and I found interesting object. Thanks to FITS format and SAOImage DS9 software I can find exact coordinates (it’s truly amazing, by the way!). Let’s then say it’s 0h 42m 41.611 s, +40°51’53.34″ (the big bright dot close to Andromeda). It’s pretty easy to find image of that spot in SkyView or similar services base on that, but where can I find the name?

    Thank you for any help you can give me.

  26. Laura says:

    Hello Andrew,

    Try SIMBAD, http://simbad.u-strasbg.fr/simbad/sim-fcoo. Your coordanates may need to be in a slightly different format such as 0 42 41.611 +40 51 53.34 (there are examples). Click the AladinLite link in the Interactive AladinLite view box for a nice interactive image.

    Regards,
    Laura McDonald
    SkyView

  27. Ken says:

    I just got a telescope myself, have always loved amateur astronomy and wanted to have one for myself. I was reading something scary on survivingtheaftermath.com, if you click the disasters then go to the alien articles, it’s about the possibility of the reduced luminosity from the tabby star maybe being caused by dyson swarms (artificial alien megastructures) and it sounds legit, I want to try and locate where that is, any one have any info?

  28. Rob says:

    Hello,
    Im trying to find a software program, online database or even a book that has a list of all the visible stars with their coordinates, constellations, etc… Any help would be greatly appreciated, Thank you

  29. Laura says:

    Hello,

    The websites listed in the Related Tips section at the bottom of our “Can you help me find a star?” post is a good place to start: http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/blog/index.php/2012/12/04/can-you-help-me-find-a-star/

    I hope this helps.

    Laura McDonald
    SkyView

  30. Tom says:

    Ken,
    This is not an area where we have any special competence, but I believe there have been examinations of the large infrared catalogs for objects that seem to match the anticipated characteristics of large artificial structure. AFAIK no convincing evidence has been found.
    Tom

  31. Tom says:

    To James Contos,

    Within Skyview you might wish to pick something like the Mellinger Survey rather than the DSS if you are trying to get a sense of where the object is in the sky. While the star you are centering on may be too faint to be visible in the image, it will still be in the center of the field if you put in its coordinates. It is perfectly reasonable to put in fields of view of 30-60 degrees when requesting data in the Mellinger survey — this corresponds to the size of constellations and you may even be able to pick them out directly if you happen to be near some of the more prominent ones like Ursa Major or Orion. SkyView will fail if you try to generate regions that large for the DSS.

  32. madalina says:

    Hello!! Can you help me find this star? These are the coordinates i was given. Thank our very much for your work!!
    Magnitud: 7.45 (B-V: 1.36)
    AR/DEC (J2000): 21h56m24.5s/-55°41’29.2″
    AR/DEC (de fecha): 21h57m29s/-55°36’56”
    Latitud/Longitud galáctica: -47°38’38.1″/-21°42’57.5″
    Angulo horario/DE: 21h53m8s/-55°36’56”
    Distancia: 1482.53 años luz

  33. Laura says:

    madalina,

    On the SkyView Query Page enter the J2000 coordinates using this format
    21 56 24.5, -55 41 29.2
    in the Coordinates or Source box and select the DSS or DSS2 surveys the DSS: Optical box. Then click the Submit button

    I hope this helps,
    Laura
    SkyView

  34. Donna says:

    Hi
    My numbers are RA: 3h 50m 49.9s DEC: +7 4′ 3.2″

    I have the same question, a map comes up with tons of stars. How do I know which one is mine? Also I would like to know what direction to look..north , south, east , west? It doesn’t let me know where to look in general. I am in Canada. Thx

  35. Laura says:

    Hello Donna,

    SkyView images are centered on the coordinates entered in the “Coordinates or Source” box on the SkyView query form. The coordinates you are using can be entered in this format: 3 50 49.9 +7 4 3.2

    It looks like the star is in the constellation Taurus. There are several sites that can help you locate the constellation with sky charts according to your location. Here are two:

    http://www.heavens-above.com/
    Use the “Change your observing location” link and then click the “Interactive sky chart” link

    There is also this site:
    http://www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky/

    I hope this helps.
    Laura McDonald
    SkyView

  36. Donna says:

    Hi Laura,
    I have done all that.
    I’m not getting very much info besides what I already had. If you say it’s in the Taurus constellation then I guess it’s SE of me somewhere…
    Thx

  37. Laura says:

    Hi Donna,

    I googled to look for some other sites that might help and found this:
    https://in-the-sky.org/location.php

    Enter your city, click “set town”
    on the next page click the “what’s in the sky?” link

    A sky map will be displayed for your region. There is a slider for time and you can drag the wheel to a different orientation. The planetarium link may also be helpful.

    -Laura

  38. Tejal says:

    Hello,

    I just named a star for my mother’s birthday, the details are RA: 3h 59m 58.98s, DEC: 11.3174°. I am not able to locate the star, can you please help me with the syntax for DEC?
    Thanks!

    -Tejal

  39. Laura says:

    Hi Tejal,
    The coordinates should work in this format: 03 59 58.98, 11 19 02.6

    http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/current/cgi/query.pl

    I hope this helps,
    Laura McDonald
    SkyView

  40. ibby says:

    i bought my sick girlfriend a star because shes always wanted one and i cant find it anywhere. can you please help me out because ive promised her a star and she was disappointed when we couldnt find it

  41. Laura says:

    Hello,
    If you send me the coordinates of the star I will be happy to help you display an image of it in SkyView.

    Laura McDonald
    SkyView

  42. Erica says:

    Hello,

    Trying to locate a star. The details are RA: 7h 34m 52.26s, DEC: 12.6143°. I am unable to get anything to come up when I put in that information. Can you help me with the DEC portion so I can find it please?

    Thank you,
    Erica

  43. Laura says:

    Hello Erica,

    Try using your coordinates as: 7h 34m 52.26s, DEC: 12.6143

    SkyView Query page

    Laura McDonald
    SkyView

  44. Ed Sodd says:

    02 08 29.2327 +22 26 58.504

    can you help me understand the RA and the DEC format of these coordinates?

    I only need to know this, Thanks a lot.

  45. Laura says:

    Hello Ed,

    02 08 29.2327 is the RA (right ascension) and +22 26 58.504 (declination).

    You should be able to enter the coordinates as is in the Coordinates or Source box on the SkyView Query page. Select a survey such as the DSS survey in the Optical:DSS box and click the Submit button. The resulting image will be centered on these coordinates.

    I hope this helps.

    Laura McDonald
    SkyView

  46. Abigail says:

    Hello

    I’m trying to locate a star. Please could you assist .

    RA: 00h55m00.85s
    Declination: +12°50’50.6″

    Thank you

  47. Laura says:

    Hello Abigail,

    Try using your coordinates as: 0h 55m 0.85s, DEC: 12 50 50.6

    Link to SkyView Query page

    Let me know if you have further questions.

    Regards,
    Laura McDonald
    SkyView

  48. Abigail says:

    Hi Laura

    How do I use the Query page? What do I select under the surveys?

    Please help.

    Thank you.

  49. Laura says:

    Hi Abigail,

    On the SkyView Query Page enter the coordinates 0h 55m 0.85s, 12 50 50.6 in the “Coordinates or Source” box.
    Then select the DSS or DSS2 surveys in the the “DSS: Optical” survey box.
    Then click the “Submit” button at the top of the form.

    SkyView Query Page

    An image will be displayed centered on your coordinates.

    I hope this helps,
    Laura
    SkyView

  50. Abigail says:

    Hi Laura,

    This is what comes up:
    Exception encounteredAn irrecoverable error terminated the request.

    Reason: Unable to recognize target/position: 0h 55m 0.85s, DEC: 12 50 50.6

    Please refer to the SkyView documentation or contact us if you have questions about this error. We welcome your questions and feedback.

    Please help further

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