Navigate by the Southern Cross

Southern CrossIn the southern hemisphere, the location of south can be determined from the Southern Cross constellation. It is perhaps the easiest constellation to find in the night sky. It can be distinguished from other cross shaped groups by its size, it's smaller, and its two pointer stars. The brightest star is at the foot of the true cross.

The stars that make up the Southern Cross appears to rotate throughout the night around the South Celestial Pole. However, it is the earth that is rotating and the actual location of the Cross in the sky will depend on the time of the night you observe it. Actually, the Cross will also appear in a different position in the sky depending on the time of the year.

This means the sky map picture on this page is only valid for a specific time, date and position (latitude, longitude). In order to match what you actually see in the night sky, you have to rotate it. To find the right sky map on your location, see the information at the page Finding the North Star.

To locate south:

· Locate the two bright pointer stars and the Cross constellation. There are actually 5 stars in the constellation visible with the naked eye, the four stars that make up the cross and a smaller star, in between the bottom star and the right star.

· Project an imaginary line through the long axisof the cross. Begin with the star that marks the top of the cross.

· Draw a perpendicular bisector between the two pointer stars, which is a line starting at the midpoint between the two stars and coming out at right angles. This line should cross the imaginary line through the long axis of the cross. The intersection of these two lines is close to the South Pole.

· Place a marking arrow on the ground to enable you to remember the position by day.

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