Southern Star Wheel

A planisphere is an awesome tool for learning your way around the night sky. Unlike a normal star map, a planisphere can be set for any date and time, and shows the stars currently visible.

The Southern Star Wheel has interchangeable star disks, which means you can customize it to suit your needs. If you live in the big city and can only see the brightest stars (or are still learning your way around the night sky), you can select a simplified “star disk” that shows only the major stars. If you want to learn the shapes of the constellations, use the star disk that delineates their stick figures. More experienced users can use an advanced star disk that shows many more (fainter) stars. And if you’re interested in the ethnoastronomy of southern Africa, there is a special star disk that shows some of the most famous indigenous stars and patterns.

The Southern Star Wheel has been designed for high-quality printing on A3-sized paper (although it will work fine on the smaller A4 format also). For best results, print it on heavy paper (say, 160gsm) for durability; you may even want to laminate the various parts. Once the separate pieces have been printed, simply cut them out and assemble. Complete instructions are included in the free PDF download.

Over and above learning the positions of the stars and constellations, a planisphere can be used to explore the rotation of the Earth, its annual orbit, the movement of the planets, and much more.

Students from Elkanah House building StarWheels (2016 February)

For outreach or educational use, the Southern Star Wheel can be customized with your logos, slogans, etc. Contact for further details.


The current version of the Southern Star Wheel is available from the DOC website at