Living in the countryside can, on occasion, feel like living in a planetarium. On a clear night there is nothing that I like more than standing outside looking at the stars. With the right app you can name all of the individual stars, but even without it the constellations and planets are clear to spot.
There’s something so calming and dreamlike looking up and out, beyond our Earth’s atmosphere and through space. “Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning” says Peter Pan to Wendy, before they fly off the clock tower. There are so many star references through literature and in art. It seems that us humans have studied them, dreamed on them and even relied upon them for centuries.
There is a saying “when the stars align” but what does that really mean? In short it refers to something perfect. Something precious and lucky that has happened or is about to. Can this expression be turned around though? At the precise time of my wedding, for example, could I say that the stars had aligned, even if I did not know it in advance? And how would I even know which ones were above my husband and I as we exchanged vows, so bright was the sun that its light drowned them out. Well, now I do know, thanks to GreaterSkies. Now I can reminisce and study them to my heart’s content.
This excellent service draws upon separate sources used by NASA to compute the alignment at any given time and from any given point. Quite brilliant. Each map shows around 7,000 – 8,000 stars, which includes the constellations that are clearly marked out. The computer programme was designed initially by founder Juan Reyero to print a high quality star map, arguably unlike any other with no detail of the starry sky omitted. Offering them to friends and family Juan was, thankfully, persuaded to create a business out of his programme.
Printed in astonishingly sharp quality, and framed with real attention to detail, these maps would make a perfect gift to yourself or someone else. There are currently two styles on offer: Night Sky or Classic. The one downside is that whichever poster option you go for there is only one frame on offer which is a black rimmed one with styrene glass. This gives a superior finish and also has UV protection which makes finding the perfect spot to hang it that bit easier. You can reframe it, of course, if black isn’t quite your style. The poster is printed with archival inks which also protect against sun damage, to increase the longevity of your star map. So even in a different frame you don’t have to worry too much about hanging the artwork near a window.
This wouldn’t be a complete review without mentioning the ordering process. Quite honestly, it couldn’t be easier. You choose the date and time, then find the location either by typing in the name or a postcode. You get two different text boxes. One is more of a title (referred to as the caption), the other adds detail. The caption box does run out of characters without telling you, so do check your final version before downloading or printing. If you need any assistance with this then the team at GreaterSkies are on hand and happy to help. The delivery is equally swift and seamless. I ordered the Night Sky version of my map on a Monday and it arrived on the Wednesday of the same week. One day later and it was and still is now hanging on my wall above my computer for me to dream over and pull creative motivation from at any time.
“There wouldn’t be a sky full of stars if we were all meant to wish on the same one.” Frances Clark
So would I recommend this product? Absolutely! There different ordering options, including being able to download the star map and print it yourself if that is your preference. There are exciting developments in the pipeline too, and I even spotted some downloadable Father’s Day cards on the GreaterSkies website. Without a doubt, this is a great gift to give, and to receive.
“Go out and paint the stars”. Vincent Van Gogh
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