When I asked to be included on Jude's Sun Moon Stars list it occurred to me that I should actually make something even though I wasn't sure just what to do. To get into the spirit of the whole thing I did a couple of pages of doodles, hoping they would show me a way. As I thought of suns, moons and stars I began to list their attributes and the ways they are usually portrayed. This is an exercise in the obvious...a festival of stereotypes....but as a graphic designer I know how important symbols are to communication and once I have identified the obvious, subversion of those accepted forms is the natural next step. So, this is my starting point.
Suns, moons and stars are all spherical, or in two dimensions, circular. Differentiating between them or making them more than circles depends on context and proportion. Usually the sun is the largest, then the moon, then stars. These celestial orbs are interwoven into the experience of all humans, living or dead. They and their cycles are one of the few things we have all had in common.
The sun is radiant. It gives off light and heat and showing that energetic generosity is part of telegraphing "sun". but usually the spherical center is included too, because we can see it clearly. So the sun is most simply shown as a circle with rays coming out all around. It is warm, literally, so yellow is the classic color, or white, as in "white hot". The space around the sun can be blue, but whatever color is chosen it should be light. If you put the sun into a dark sky it immediately implies the blackness of space and the sun moves from being our sun and life source to being an anonymous star. As long as it has rays, the sun can have a face and can also have arms...implying both the giving of light and life, and the encircling, holding power of gravity. The sun holds us in its embrace. It can be male or female but usually is neutral. When the sun is present it dominates the sky and illuminates the earth, hiding the moon and stars from our consciousness.
The moon almost never has rays because it only reflects light. Unlike the sun, the moon can change shape from circular to crescent. The phases of the moon are a great way to indicate the passage of time. Because it is mostly visible at night it is usually shown white against a dark background. It is cool and its thin light is mysterious. Since we can look at it directly, we often give it a face. It is sometimes considered female, but also can be male as in "the man in the moon". It can be comfortingly familiar or distant and impersonal, but it is always beautiful.
They radiate (they too are suns), they are very far away and there are uncountable numbers of them. They can be shown as circles, but only small ones irregularly spaced, and there needs to be more than one. If only one star is used it usually takes on a pointed form showing the rays without the inner sphere. The classic five pointed star is immediately identifiable, but any number of points can be added, as long as the center circle isn't emphasized. Star shapes can have faces, but they are usually anonymous. Collections of stars...constellations...offer patterns that we can project our stories upon, but mostly stars speak of the vast universe hidden from us by the brilliance of the sun. They draw us out of our daily preoccupations and show us that we are part of something larger.