Journey North Map Basics

One of the most unique and exciting aspects of Journey North is the opportunity to use the real-time maps based on observations submitted by students, other citizens, and scientists. We maintain "live" maps of the monarch migration each fall and spring.
If you want students to practice mapping skills you can purchase a large classroom wall map or make your own. If you are not working on mapping skills — or lack time to routinely update maps — students can still analyze the migration by using Journey North's online maps. Here is basic background information:

Printing and Using Journey North's Live Maps

Where do I find the live online maps?

You can find links our live maps in these places:

1. On this season's live maps.

2. In each Journey North News Update.

3. In the "Map Gallery." (Select "Maps" on the navigation bar on any page. You will find links to all maps of the current season.)

In all cases, you will see a the "thumbnail" image of the map. Click on the "thumbnail" image to view this season's live map.

How do I use the live maps?

Here's what students can do with the maps:

  • Report their own sightings and see them appear on the map. The MapServer updates maps five minutes after an observer submits a sighting.
  • Select and view a map that shows all sightings for any species.
  • Click on any data point to read comments from the observer. (This is useful if students have questions about sightings.)
  • Measure distances between sites.
  • Zoom in and out.
  • See the timing of the migration at a glance. Locations of many sightings are coded with a different color for every two-week interval.
  • Click the ? icon on any map for help navigating.
  • Try this! Submit a "Practice Report" now. Then find it on the live map.

How do I print Journey North maps?
In order to analyze our maps, your class may want printed copies.
We provide two formats for printing. Test each to find which works best for you:
1)Print directly from the live map.
2) Print this sample "printer-friendly" migration map. (A link to "printer-friendly" maps is provided in the migration updates only.) If neither map prints properly, please review the suggestions in Printing Journey North Maps. You can also send questions to Journey North via our feedback form.


Maintaining Your Own Map

If you choose to plot the migration on a classroom map, students can build mapping skills and an understanding of math, science, and geography concepts such as latitude and longitude.

Where do I find a base map?
See Recommended Tracking Maps for information about purchasing maps.
The Mapmaker, Mapmaker lesson describes how students can make their own maps.

Where do I find the data for the maps?
All Sightings
appear instantly in our database as soon as they are reported. We also provide a *Data Summary for Classroom Mapping in each week's Journey North News Update (*see appropriate species). The summaries only include:
a) sightings that have been reported recently, and
b) sightings that have been reviewed by our staff for accuracy. Sightings include:
date, town, state/province, latitude, and longitude, comments. Students can use this data to locate observers' sites so they can plot them on their migration maps.


Plotting Data on Your Map

Using Town and State (or Province)
If you use the town and state/province information to locate sites, you will need a road atlas to find the location (or online atlas such as Google Maps which works even better). Once students find the location, they will need to find the same place on their wall map. This approach gives students good practice using an atlas and index (or search engine), but it can be tedious work.

Using Latitude and Longitude
All Journey North sightings include latitude and longitude. You may find it easier to locate a site using latitude/longitude coordinates than a town name, depending on the age of your students.

Please note that we use decimal degrees, whereas many maps use degrees, minutes and seconds. (To convert: There are 60 minutes in 1 degree. For example: 45.50 decimal degrees equals to 45 degrees, 30 minutes. If this is confusing, simply round off to the nearest degree and use the town name to pinpoint the location.) Final note: All longitude values are given as negative numbers when in the western hemisphere.