Guide The Southern Cross

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Acrux, brightest star in Southern Cross

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Northerners’ guide to Southern Cross

How far north of the equator can you see the Southern Cross group of stars? It may be as iconic as meat pies, lawnmowers and lamingtons, but the Southern Cross is not uniquely Australian. In fact, the Southern Cross appears on the flag of at least four other nations in the Southern Hemisphere. And it can be seen in some parts of the Northern Hemisphere as well, says astronomer Fred Watson from the Anglo-Australian telescope.

Southern Cross

If you're north of the equator but south of a latitude of about 25 degrees, which is around say Hawaii and parts of northern Africa, you can still see the Southern Cross. In fact it was by watching the constellations move across the sky as the ancient Greeks travelled across the Earth, that they came to realise that the Earth was spherical and not flat. Precession, that is the motion of the Earth's north and south poles around the sky, will also change the way we see the Southern Cross, says Watson.

Worsening light pollution is making it more and more difficult to see the Cross from our cities, says Watson who fears we may not see it at all in the future. Tags: astronomy-space , stars.


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Email ABC Science. The system is a relatively young one, with an estimated age of 8 to 11 million years. The primary component belongs to the spectral class B0. The companion is believed to be a main sequence star belonging to the spectral class B2.

How can I see Southern Cross now?

A third star was discovered in , which may be a pre-main sequence star, and there are two other stars nearby which are believed to be optical companions, lying in the same line of sight but not physically associated with the Beta Crucis system. It belongs to the spectral class B2 IV.

It is a hot, massive blue-white subgiant star currently in the process of becoming a red giant. It has a mass 8. It has an apparent magnitude of 1. It is the nearest red giant star to the Sun. Gamma Crucis is also sometimes called Rubidea, or Ruby-like, because of its colour. The star is classified as a semi-regular variable SRV with multiple periods.

It lies at a distance of light years from the solar system. The star has 1.

The Southern Cross is located near the larger constellation Centaurus , which surrounds it on three sides. Crux constellation is also bordered by Musca , the Fly. To find the Southern Cross, first look for the two very bright stars nearby, Alpha and Beta Centauri.


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Following a line from Alpha to Beta Centauri will take you near Gamma Crucis, the top star in the cross asterism. The Southern Cross spans only six degrees from north to south, a distance only slightly bigger than the one between Merak and Dubhe, the pointer stars located in the Big Dipper , which point the way to Polaris , the North Star, located in Ursa Minor constellation.

In tropical latitudes, the stars can be seen from April to June. Southern Cross also known as Crux photographed with a 30 second exposure. Other stars are partly obscured by a tree in the foreground.

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Image: Flickr. The constellation Crux lies exactly opposite to Cassiopeia and the two can never be visible in the sky at the same time.

Southern Cross | Watford | Official Website

The Southern Cross should not be confused with the so-called False Cross, formed by four other bright stars in the vicinity. The X-shaped False Cross bears a slight resemblance to the Southern Cross and is oriented in approximately the same way, but the four stars — two belonging to the constellation Vela , the Sails, and two to Carina , the Keel — are located a bit farther to the north, and they do not point to the Southern Celestial Pole. The Southern Cross carries significance across many southern countries and civilizations.

It was an important symbol to the Egyptians and the Aborigines among other cultures.

The Egyptians saw it as representative of the place where Horus, the Sun goddess, was crucified, marking the passage of winter.