FMP: The Daily Telegraph Night Sky Map

This will be a short blog post, following on from the main blog post I did a while ago where I researched a lot of resources I had to see how they could benefit this project. Since then, I also have come across The Daily Telegraph’s Night Sky large-scale map of the northern hemisphere, of which I wanted to discuss a few points of interest.

I want to discuss this from the specific perspective of the poster/print part of the project, as enough has already been discussed about the book side of the project, and although that makes up the project’s majority, I do not want the poster/print of the night sky to be forgotten about.


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On first glance, the map looks incredibly informative and this proves to be the case. There is a lot of information laid out here, and there is more imagery and less text than I have seen in equivalent designs, which helps to make the information easier to understand. I’ve taken some photos of these which I’ve placed below.

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Handily, there is a guide on how to best use the map, as it can be quite confusing for those who are new to star maps as there are many different pieces of information that need to be used together in order to get the best from it.

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Generally the amount of text is good, but here it’s definitely a bit wordy. The problem with the text is how it has been compacted together with a combination of no line breaks between paragraphs, a small size typeface and minimal leading (spacing between lines). This makes for text that is not as easy to read as it should be.

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However, I think the smaller illustrations dotted around the main night sky map are successful in conveying the relevant points as they are very easy to understand and have the necessary white space around them to breathe instead of your eye being distracted by surrounding features.

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I think the relative sizes of the planets feature above is well designed, but poorly illustrated due to the colour scheme. I don’t see why every planet should be yellow, it just creates false connotations. With the white background, more realistic colours could be used without any issue to the rest of the map.

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An interesting point when looking at the constellation of Cancer, the Crab, is how it could be represented differently. Here the whole crab is shown, but looking at it the claw of the crab could also be represented using the same pattern of stars.

I will need to see if there is a common theme I need to follow when illustrating constellations, or whether I will be able to have more freedom of expression when creating these. The problem I have found in my research is how constellations don’t really look like what they’re meant to represent.

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Something I have mentioned before in my research but which arises again here is how being a circular map, means it needs to be able to be looked at throughout the whole 360º. This means though at the vast majority of angles, the other content on the poster is illegible and needs turning to view. It is a very interesting problem, and one I would like to solve, although it may be unrealistic.

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The navigation pointers around the edge of the map makes it very easy to know where to have the map when you use it.

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Following on my previous point, about there not really being a visual hierarchy, I found my answer as to why in the key. Size is used as a differentiator between different magnitude stars, but the one thing that really marks these stars apart in the night sky is their magnitude (brightness)… so why these are all the same brightness confounds me, and seems highly illogical.

Summary:

It has been a really good find to have a look at this map, and has helped to further develop my understanding of what design I will need to create in order for the poster/print to be suitable.

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