Using Google Sky Maps

Google Sky Maps allows allows you to view celestial objects, including stars, constellations, galaxies, planets and the Earth's moon. To view these objects, go to www.google.com/sky.

You can view content in Google Sky Maps in several ways:

Searching the Sky

To search for celestial objects and places, enter a search term and click Search. Examples:

  • Crab Nebula
  • Orion
  • NCG 2437
  • 5:34:32.01, 32:00:45.96

Navigating the Sky

You can navigate (move your view) in two dimensions in Google Sky Maps. To pan (move the map), do one of the following:

  • Click and drag the view
  • Press the up arrow on your keyboard to move north
  • Press the down arrow on your keyboard to move south
  • Press the right arrow on your keyboard to move east
  • Press the left arrow on your keyboard to move west

Additionally, you can zoom in or out pressing the + or - keys. Move the cursor over a place on the map and use the mouse scroll button to zoom in or out. To center and zoom in on a place, double click the place.

Note - The coordinates of your cursor always appear in the left bottom side of the view. These coordinates update as you move the cursor.

Using the Navigation Controls


Navigation controls

The navigation controls you see at www.google.com/sky are shown on the left. Navigation controls include:

  1. Arrows - Click the appropriate arrow buttons to move the view north, south, east or west. Click Center button to return to your original view.
  2. Zoom - Click + to zoom in on the center of the map. Click - to zoom out.
  3. Zoom slider - Drag the zoom slider up or down to zoom in or out incrementally.
spacerSmall navigation controls      Small navigation controls

Using Views

In Google Sky Maps, you can use certain views by clicking appropriate tabs in the right top corner of the page. You can use more than one view at once and deselect each at any time. These views include:

  • Backyard Astronomy - When you click this view, objects of interest appear with circular icons. Click these icons to display an info window that contains additional information about the objects, such as additional images, details, news, blogs and more.
  • Infrared - This view displays infrared imagery of the current view. You can adjust the opacity of this imagery by moving the slider that appears just below the Infrared button.
  • Microwave - This view displays microwave imagery of the current view. You can adjust the opacity of this imagery by moving the slider that appears just below the Microwave button.
  • Historical- This view displays historical maps of the sky. You can adjust the opacity of this imagery by moving the slider that appears just below the Historical button. You may see a better view of this imagery by zooming out.

Using Thumbnails

You can navigate to interesting collections of imagery by clicking the thumbnails that appear at the bottom of the page (example: Hubble Showcase). Once you have clicked a thumbnail, certain collections allow you to set the opacity of the imagery by moving the slider that appears in the bottom left corner of the page.

Sharing a Link

You can share a link to your current view and post it on a website or give it to others. Click Link to this page, copy the web address from the Paste link in email or IM field and paste it. You can also right click Link to this page and choose to copy the link.

Printing Imagery

Click Print in the top right corner of the page to print imagery that appears in Google Sky Maps. Note that you can only print the base imagery, not imagery from the views.

Viewing KML

Once you have created a map, you can view KML-based content in Google Sky Maps. To do this, enter the URL of your KML file in the search box and click Search. In order to share this map with others, click the Link to this page (learn more).

Note that you can display one KML file at a time. At this time, placemarks do not appear in Google Maps Sky.