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Assuming the intention is at least partly for educational purposes, Is it mutar to arrange star stickers in the form of actual constellations (say, on a ceiling) or is that included in the prohibition of depicting celestial bodies?

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Regarding the "prohibition of making celestial bodies", there is indeed a prohibition to draw stars or any of the heavenly objects, which includes constellations. While the stars in this case aren't protruding images, most of the poskim assume that flat images are still prohibited (see Tosfos Avoda Zara 43b, that the reason is because these images look flat to us when we look up at them in the sky. This is the psak of the Tur/Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 141:4 and the Shach there, and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 168:1).

The Shach, however, believes that the prohibition of drawing or representing the constellations only refers to a representation of all 12 constellations together, though the Taz argues. However, it seems like even the Shach only allows drawing the shapes of the constellations without drawing the 'points' as stars, because after all, the Shach himself prohibits the drawing of stars.

Ve'in Lamo Michsol (vol. 2) writes that it is prohibited to hang up stars or the like even though someone else drew/made them. If so, there would certainly be a prohibition of putting them up in a way that makes it obvious that they're meant to represent a heavenly body. (Of course, there may be dispensations for educational purposes, etc.)

  • Contemporary practice does not seem to be strict like the V'ein Lamo Michshol since countless homes have wall art/photos with sun/moon/stars, even where it's clearly aesthetic and not educational. What if the intention is (at least partly) educational? – Loewian Feb 9 '15 at 22:36
  • As far as I know, there's no dispensation for depicting sun/stars for artistic purposes, but I'll admit that I never looked into it in depth; I've never felt the need to have artwork with the sun – הנער הזה Feb 10 '15 at 5:38
  • Would it make a difference in a bathroom? – Noach MiFrankfurt Feb 10 '15 at 13:56
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    Do 5 point stars actually look like the celestial bodies? In what way? As a wise warthog once put it, stars are just "balls of gas burning billions of miles away". What does it mean to "draw the points as stars"? As opposed to drawing points not as stars? (Similarly for planets: they didn't have [sophisticated] telescopes. Rabban Gamliel would never recognize a modern model of Jupiter as a planet if he saw one.) – Double AA Jun 7 '18 at 22:06
  • @DoubleAA that particular warthog was always thinking about gas. But the point of drawing points is to make sure that your white/glowing circles are recognizable as stars, since stars twinkle (especially the little ones). I should really write up another answer though to reflect the lenient opinions though (like the Chayei Adam) – הנער הזה Jun 15 '18 at 0:21
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Piskei Riaz is explicit that for educational purposes this is permitted (Avodah zarah 3:11). This is besides for the opinion of the Rambam that the prohibition is only when it was made for idolatry (see Sefer HaChinuch neg. 27).

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According to the translator of the Moznaim Mishneh Torah, the prohibition on "drawing planets and constellations" applies to figures that represent them in astrology (e.g. the ones accompanying some piyyutim in the back of the Artscroll machzor) and not astronomical charts.

Primary sources to follow in an edit.

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