David Godfrey Lecture – Charting the Heavens – Wil Tirion

July 6, 2019 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Willingdon Memorial Hall
Church St
Eastbourne BN20 9HT

Title: Charting the Heavens (Uranography – Yesterday and Today) – Wil Tirion (Capelle aan den Ijssel, The Netherlands – the world’s foremost celestial cartographer, whose works include Bright Star Atlas 2000.0Star Atlas 2000.0 and Uranometria 2000.0)


The presentation will lead you through the history of uranography; the charting of the heavens. You will hear something about the origin of the constellations, also the southern ones, and I will tell you about some old star atlases and their curiosities.  The pictures will also show the changes in stellar cartography from the beginning until today.

In the second part I will tell you how I became interested in star charts, how I started creating star charts as a hobby; how this hobby evolved and finally transformed into a real profession. I will also tell about how the computer changed my work… Everything illustrated with a lot of pictures.


Wil Tirion never had any education in astronomy. His education was focused on graphic arts and design, although the starry sky and especially star maps have always fascinated him. In the field of astronomy and uranography (mapping the sky), he is what they call autodidact.

In 1977, just for his own enjoyment, he started making his first star atlas, with stars down to magnitude 6.5. It was published in the Encyclopedia of Astronomy, edited by Colin Ronan, (Hamlyn, London, 1979) and in 1981 as a separate set of maps by the British Astronomical Association (B.A.A. Star Charts 1950.0).

In 1978, still as a hobby, he started working on a larger atlas: Sky Atlas 2000.0., showing stars down to magnitude 8.0. Its publication, in 1981 (by Sky Publishing Corporation, USA, and copublished by Cambridge University Press), resulted in requests from several publishers for star maps for different purposes. In 1983 he decided to quit his job as a graphic artist and designer, and became a full timeuranographer. Since then he has created several star atlases, like the Bright Star Atlasand the Cambridge Star Atlasand has cooperated with other people on larger atlases like Uranometria 2000.0. He als created numerous star maps for astronomy books and magazines.

In 1987 he was honored by receiving the ‘Dr. J. van der Bilt-prize’, a Dutch award for amateur astronomers.

In 1993 this was followed by a second, more international ‘award’, when a minor planet was named after him: (4648) Tirion = 1931 UE.

 Wil Tirion’s website: www.wil-tirion.com

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