FMP: More Initial Ideas, Constellations & Content

For this blog post, I will be showing more of the initial ideas I have been working on as well as finalising the structure of the book I am designing to make best use of the space available to me.

The Book’s Structure & Initial Layout Ideas

I decided to sit down and work out the structure of the book. I decided to sketch it as it was quicker, and I thought I would use a storyboarding technique to choose pages and maybe sketch down some basic layout ideas. Below are those sketches and notes.

Structure-1-web Structure-2-web Structure-3-web


I feel very confident now that I have come up with a good structure for the book, but the main thing now is that the 20 constellations need choosing (the blank pages in the structure), and until they are chosen, I will not be happy to progress with designing, as I want to know what I am dealing with first, and will need to research into each constellation to gain the information needed to form the book’s content. This does not stop me sketching ideas however or doing some basic layout work.

Which constellations to include?

This is a major part of the project I need to work around to come up with a suitable solution. As previous research has indicated, there are 36 ‘important’ constellations, which I do not have room for given the other content that needs to be part of the book.

This compromise is acceptable, given the book is to be a basic guide, not a comprehensive book of the universe.

I have worked out I have 20 pages free, so I have decided that I will select 20 constellations, and design a page each around them. So, the big question is, how to select 20 in a meaningful way, not a random draw. But how do you give priority to constellations?

Stage 1:

My first decision was to take the 13 constellations that make up the Zodiac, as these will be familiar to a large proportion of the audience, and tie into astrology, something most people will have a base familiarity with, even if it’s just a case of knowing their star sign. Some of the most familiar constellations form the Zodiac, such as Gemini.

Aquarius, Aries, Cancer, Capricornus, Gemini, Leo, Libra,
Ophiuchus, Pisces, Sagittarius, Scorpius, Taurus, Virgo

Stage 2:

With 7 spaces left, and 23 constellations left on my list, this makes it tricky to decide. Some are obvious to include due to their well known familiarity or exclude, such as:

Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Orion

Carina, Cassiopeia, Cetus, Eridanus, Puppis, Vela

These sketches also show ideas about page layout
These sketches also show ideas about page layout
Stage 3:

The trickiest stage of all, there are now 4 spaces left, and 14 constellations from which I can choose from. In the end I did some research into their history and how closely the stars resemble what object it is meant to represent to maximise the designs I will be creating that highlight what the shape of the constellations show.

Canis Major, Crux Australis, Cygnus, Draco

Andromeda, Aquila, Auriga, Boötes, Centaurus,
Hydra, Lyra, Pegasus, Perseus

Hercules (back-up)

A very difficult choice to make!

The reason why Hercules is a back-up and not dismissed is because my research into Ophiuchus showed it to be an uninteresting constellation that did not really look like what it is meant to represent, so as it is not a used Zodiac sign, I am currently debating whether to replace it with Hercules, a more impressive constellation.


To summarise, I have now selected the 20 constellations that I will be using, which is a good moment as this has been slowing progress down in the designing phase. Hopefully, if any astronomers read this they won’t think my choices are inadequate, but the 20 constellations remain open for discussion so if I reach a stage in my research into each constellation and find I have made a mistake then I will be able to correct this!


Now I have a good idea as to the book’s structure, it’s time to make sure there’s some content to fill it!

Chapter 1 – Viewing Tips:
The Night Sky: Part 2 by The Telegraph & Astronomy Now
The Night Sky: Part 2 by The Telegraph & Astronomy Now

The majority of my information for this section of my book will come from The Night Sky: Part 2 by the Telegraph & Astronomy Now, that I researched and analysed in an earlier blog post. The focus will be to encourage people of ways they can easily view the night sky without having to spend a lot of money, and to give them simple, handy pieces of advice that will hopefully stick with them and be very beneficial, a particular example of which I have put below.

“…while at the telescope make sure red bulbs replace normal ones in things like torches, or cover them with red material (red light does not destroy night vision).”

Chapter 2 – Solar System :

Obviously, with the Sun being the centre of the Solar System, then I will want relevant content about that. For the planets, I definitely want to have an image of the planet, as well as any particular defining feature that could be shown close-up. I think it is very important that the pages are less text based and more infographic based, which will be built around a set of facts and figures that will hopefully amaze the audience. Facts will include:

  • Atmosphere.
  • Size (diameter).
  • Gravity.
  • Inner Structure.
  • Distance from Sun/Earth.
  • Length of Day.
  • Length of Year.
  • Surface Temperature (extremes).
  • Satellites/Moons.

I also think it is important to have information regarding how it can be viewed in the night sky, such as:

  • Where and when is it visible in the night sky.
  • Magnitude.
  • Equipment needed to view it.

To find this out, I will be again drawing on the Night Sky guide as well as my Astronomy Kingfisher Pocket Guide, but my main resource will be the NASA Solar System Exploration website, which contains a Facts and Figures section.

NASA Solar System Exploration website
NASA Solar System Exploration website
Chapter 3 – Constellations:

For the pages detailing the selected constellations, the content will most likely need to be gathered from several sources. The International Astronomical Union has charts for all the constellations as well as a brief write-up about the origin of constellations in general, and other books I have contain the information about them such as the stars they contain etc.

International Astronomical Union - Constellations
International Astronomical Union – Constellations

However, I really need to know some information about the mythological meaning for the constellations I’ve chosen that can be mentioned in the book, although to what extent I am not sure yet.
I will need to do some more research into this, as I can find information on websites, but have no means of verifying its authenticity. The answer may lie in the Universe book I was able to analyse from photos taken earlier in my research.

Chapter 4 – Star Maps:

For the star maps, I have decided to give a double-page spread for the northern and southern hemisphere, as well as one for the equatorial regions. For this I will be looking in particular at the large-scale Philip’s Star Chart available in their Astrobox. I also have come across The Daily Telegraph’s Night Sky large-scale map of the Northern Hemisphere, which I’ll be analysing in a short blog post soon.

Philip's Astrobox - Star Map
Philip’s Astrobox – Star Map

I will also need to design a key for the charts to make them easily understandable by the audience, so I’ll be taking another look at other keys again to see if there are any common trends.

The Stargazing with a Telescope book by Robin Scagell I have looked at in my research has a short section on understanding and using sky maps, which could be useful to include for the audience, as they are not easy things to easily understand.

Conclusion, Reflection & Next Steps

This blog post is a symbol of the enormous progress this project is now making, after a slow start. To get the majority of the content in place is good news, and will help me when designing as I know what will need to be packaged, as this book will be rather tightly packaged.

The next steps will be to progress with designing, while looking into the smaller details regarding the content, and I will begin to look into imagery that can be used in the book.

As far as my working patterns are involved, they are back in order, and my aim is to put out a blog post most days (although this may slow when actually designing) in order to catch up with my schedule.