SOUTHERN CROSS STAR CONSTELLATION

One of the most famous Southern Hemisphere constellations is the Southern Cross (Crux Australis).

In New Zealand, this group of stars are visible during all the seasons (i.e. year round). They are not visible in the Northern Hemisphere, so consequently don’t have any Greek or Roman legends about them.  However, there are many legends throughout the Pacific. The Maori name for Crux is “Te Punga” – “the anchor”, as it is thought of as an anchor of  Tama-rereti’s waka (canoe), symbolised by the Milky Way, where the Pointers are its rope. [The Pointers are 2 stars nearby the Southern Cross].

Along with the stars of this constellation, is the ‘Coalsack’, a black-looking ‘cloud’ (visible in the bottom lefthand corner of the photo). The countryside is an ideal place to view the night sky stars of the Southern Cross as you will be well away from the city light “pollution”, and be able to see the Coalsack set amongst zillions of stars! Strangely, the winter time is a good time to see the Southern Cross as it is higher up in the sky during these months. When the skies are clear, I always show our visitors when they are leaving to go home after their Auckland tour.

IYA2009

2009 – The International year of Astronomy.

2009 marked the 400th year of modern observational astronomy, when in 1609 Galileo first used the telescope to observe the stars!