Star identification


While I love watching the night sky I have never been very good at identifying what I am looking at, constellations, stars etc.
I have posted a screenshot of the night sky, camera pointed straight up and taken in Vancouver BC, could someone tell me what the brightest star is in the middle of the photo is just so I can get my bearings.

What compass direction is the bottom of the camera facing?

The easiest might be to get a sky map app for your phone or tablet, then check the sky in your area. It’ll look something like this.

There are several apps, I have a few for stars or satellites etc.

Edit/ looks like you had a few planets visible at that time depending on what direction the camera is facing. Here is the night sky in Vancouver at 03:25 on 5/21:


Thanks, I did look at a couple of star maps but I couldn’t really make out what I was looking at.
I did also download an app similar to the one you suggested, I’ve just never stayed up late enough to use it!


What compass direction is this way? Try to be as close as you can please.

The app I used above, stellarium (sp?). You can set a past or future time or date to see what’s visible at that time.

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330* NW. I will also check out the app as well, thanks.

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Here’s 330 degrees NW.

Without grid.


Some similarities in some star locations between the two, but I can’t say 100% what it is.

lots of light pollution…I cant make anything out.

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Here is another cool sky app, Star Walk 2. It’s great for identifying stars, constellations, planets, satellites etc. Tapping on any star reveals its identity.


Here’s a video from a similar time, hopefully its a little clearer.

I ran the picture through a plate solver and it failed, so it could be that a lot of those white specs aren’t really stars but maybe hot pixels? Or maybe the distortion is too much for the plate solver to work. Vega is a good bet though for a bright start that is very high in the sky


Cool, thanks for trying. Now I’m off to Google plate solver.

When I plug Vancouver 5/21 3:14 into stellarium it shows a rocket body moving from up left to lower right like the object in your video when looking to the north. Could that be your object?

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I am pretty sure its a star, I’ve seen it on all the clear days in May so far.

Arcturus most likely - in Bootes. The picture is not of sufficient quality to verify using but usually one can upload a .jpeg to that site for a proper identification.

Try it :slight_smile:

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Thanks, gonna give it a go.

A mobile device app like GoSkyWatch (iOS only?) or Star Walk 2 mentioned by @StopICU33 are your best shots at simply pointing your phone camera at something and finding out exactly what it is.


I agree, I think that’s going to be my only option. Having the V3 outside has mad me a lazy astronomer, I can go to bed early and then sit in my chair with a cup of tea and watch the video that the camera took the next day.

Based on that date, time and location that is probably Vega, which is one of the brighter stars in the sky.

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The star you mention is Vega (alpha Lyrae) 26 lyrs away, Ellie’s destination in Contact novel/movie, the milky way is at the right, I rotated 90° right. Mag 6 is perfectly reached, in a very dark sky I guess it could reach 7~7.5 or even more, it would be desirable to include gain controls in an advanced tab for special uses in nature (astronomy, wildlife, boreal auroraes, etc)
From my home (Montevideo, UY), Vega is hardly visible about 15° up over the northern horizon.


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Thanks so much for the reply, I love looking up at the night sky but I never really know what I’m looking at.