Star Wheel

Create a star wheel for the Northern Hemisphere
Updated 27 Dec 2017

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For midlatitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, this planisphere will show the relative constellation positions. Identifying the constellations is a good activity for K12, community college, astronomy clubs, and other outreach. The script produces the following three figures: 1) a star wheel (cut out the wheel) with day of year ring, 2) a back image with a time of day ring, and 3) a front cover with a finder window defined by the horizon line (cut out the gray region). Assemble by joining the star wheel to the back image with a brass brad through the center. Then tape the cut-out finder window, with the horizon line, to the back image with the star wheel in between them. To use, open the finder window and rotate the star wheel so the time and date line up. Then cover with the finder window. Hold overhead with North toward the North Pole. The cardinal directions and relative star locations will match your view of the night sky. In the script, there are options to plot galaxy region, constellation names, ecliptic, circumpolar region, and Messier objects. This script is envisioned as a starting point for classroom or club activities where modifications could include plotting comet or asteroid trajectories, meteor shower radiants, etc. Hope you enjoy this script and find ways to make it applicable to your astronomy outreach.
Note: DataForStarWheel.mat in the zip file has the data needed to make the Star Wheel. No additional data are needed. Source: the Star, Constellation, Galaxy, and Messier Object data are available online at: Dan Bruton,SFA Observatory,,
A related script, for making a Star Wheel of just the Northern Circumpolar Stars, is shared here
A script for making a Star Clock, is shared here

Cite As

Meg Noah (2024). Star Wheel (, MATLAB Central File Exchange. Retrieved .

MATLAB Release Compatibility
Created with R2014b
Compatible with any release
Platform Compatibility
Windows macOS Linux
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Version Published Release Notes

Adding Star Wheel Graphic for description.