Star Deck Uses

As an educational tool.

The cards can be used to learn the constellation shapes, the mythology behind them, the names of their major stars, and objects of naked eye visibility within each. I've included only stars to ~4th magnitude so that suburban users can see all of the stars shown. In a few cases (for example, Lynx), I've had to include fainter stars to show anything.

Star Deck Guide to the Constellations

A separate guide has been written to accompany the cards. It contains a brief introduction to the layout of the cards, and a description of each constellation. The latter consists of brief sections on the mythology or history of each constellation, astronomically interesting facts (brighter objects located within, location of solstice or equinox, etc.), and a brief mnemonic to aide in its recognition.


As an educational game. Coincidentally, there are 52 constellations within view for observers in most of the U.S. and other mid-latitude northern countries. I've color-coded these according to the season they are visible - 13 per season. There are 3 zodiac signs per season, so the Star Deck can be used much like a regular deck of playing cards for a variety of games, like Rummy and Poker.


Some Possibilities

1. Instead of collecting three “8’s” or four “Jacks”, one would accumulate groups of Zodiac or Milky Way cards. Because the constellations are connected to others, groups of adjacent cards would mimic “straights”.  Cards of the same Season become “flushes.” 


2. Other groupings are possible based on the constellation mythology. For example, all the constellations related to the myth of Andromeda (Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Cetus, Perseus, Andromeda, Pegasus) would constitute a group, as would those associated with the Labors of Hercules, and the Argonauts Quest for the Golden Fleece.


3. Other groupings could include similar themes like Cats and Dogs (Leo, Leo Minor, Lynx, Canes Venatici, Canis Major, Lupus etc.), Birds (Apus, Cygnus, Aquila, Columba, Toucana, etc.), Fish and Water creatures (Cetus, Pisces, Hydra, Delphinus, etc.), Instruments (Telescopium, Sextans, Antlia, Libra, etc.), or Twin Pairs (Delphinus-Dorado, Lacerta-Chameleon, Corona Borealis-Australis, etc. also note that Gemini could be a “trump” card here).


I am working on a Teacher's Guide and will post it when complete.


I am still looking to commercially print these on high quality card stock. I'd be happy to discuss this with any interested companies or parties.


Copyright 2002, 2009 by Michael K. Shepard.  The Star Deck cards and Star Deck Guide to the Constellations are protected by copyright. However, teachers, students, educators, and the general public are free to download the cards and the Guide to use in the classroom/educational setting or for other personal purposes. All other rights are reserved. Reproduction and resale are prohibited without written consent.

I've formatted the cards to fit nicely on 4x6 index card stock. I print them out individually with my inkjet printer.

Download Northern Start Deck (52 cards) in ZIP file


Download Complete Star Deck (88 Cards, N. and S. constellations) in a Zip file


Download the Star Deck Guide to the Constellations (pdf)


Here's a free program to zip/unzip or tar/untar files:  7zip

I'd appreciate any comments from users and suggestions for improvement or games. Email me.