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I need to produce custom star charts for my website. I want to be able to do the following:

  1. Specify a region, maybe a constellation or just an arbitrary region
  2. Specify what appears on the chart (e.g. the Messier objects or the objects in some other AL observing list)
  3. Specify which markings appear (e.g. constellation boundaries, ecliptic, asterisms, etc.)

Does such software exist?

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What I would like to create is graphics similar in quality to the constellation graphics that are on the current Wikipedia constellation pages. Is that software available or something similar? –  forestplay Aug 1 '11 at 23:08

3 Answers 3

There are multiple options, both commercial and free, some of them are mentioned in the answers to the question Are there websites or programmes that permit a simulation of the night sky in the past and the future on an ordinary computer?

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Please be more specific. I've tried Stellarium, Cartes du Ciel, Voyager 4.5. None of these give satisfactory results in creating a chart that can be posted to a web page. Is there one that does as requested and that you have experience using? –  forestplay Aug 1 '11 at 23:06
Would something like this image be acceptable? –  Omar Salinas Aug 1 '11 at 23:31
That particular image is very busy but that is roughly the quality I imagined. What software created that? Can it be configured as I asked in my original question? Is there an open license that allows me to post it on my website? Thanks! –  forestplay Aug 1 '11 at 23:37
You're welcome! I made that image with Cartes du Ciel v3.0, just choose to print to a bitmap, instead of saving the image directly, this will create a .bmp file, then I opened the file with Irfanview and saved it as .png, I believe the GPL license of Cartes du Ciel will allow it, but the license of irfanview is for non-commercial use. –  Omar Salinas Aug 2 '11 at 0:46

This software was previously used for all the star charts on Wikipedia. I see they've since been replaced by IAU SVGs, but the software might be what you're after.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

There are many different software programs that will do what you want, but planetarium software is very complex and takes a long time to learn before you can use it at its best. I am a technical writer and software support person for Starry Night software and, as part of my job, write a weekly article for which is almost always illustrated using Starry Night software. I've been using various versions of Starry Night for over a decade and can generally get it to do what I want for my illustrations, though I sometimes need to fudge things a bit with other software.

I doubt whether you'll ever find one program which will do everything you want, so my suggestion is to do what I did: find a program that does most of it, and then work with that program until you can get the best from it.

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I tried the free programs Stellarium and Cartes du Ciel. I tried the commercial programs Voyager 4.5, TheSkyX Serious and Starry Night and found that latter to be the easiest to use to create nice looking PNG files satisfactory for the web. –  forestplay Aug 12 '11 at 17:44

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