Crux - The Southern Cross

If you live in the Southern hemisphere, or if you are vacationing in someplace like Hawaii, you can see a small but beautiful constellation with the shape of a cross. Its name is Crux and it is located very close to the constellation of Centaurus.

The brightest star in Crux is called Acrux. Acrux is really two stars going around (orbitting!) each other, but they are so far away that we see them as one star.

Explorers of the Southern hemisphere used Crux to guide them when sailing. By looking at Crux, they could figure out in which direction to sail without getting lost.

The Constellation Crux, the Southern Cross
Click on image for full size (130K JPEG)

Crux - The Southern Cross

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you must be south of latitude 30 degrees to begin observing Crux, one of the smallest, but most easily recognized constellations in the sky. Crux lies along the Milky Way and is surrounded by Centaurus, the Centaur, on three sides.

In the foot of the cross you will find Acrux, the brightest star of this constellation. Acrux is really a double-star system. Despite its small area, Crux contains at least ten open clusters visible with small telescopes.

Because it is not visible from most latitudes in the Northern hemisphere, Crux is a modern constellation and has no Greek or Roman myths associated with it. Crux was used by explorers of the southern hemisphere to point south since, unlike the north celestial pole, the south celestial pole is not marked by any bright star.

The Constellation Crux, the Southern Cross
Click on image for full size (130K JPEG)

Crux - The Southern Cross

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you must be south of latitude 30 degrees to begin observing Crux, one of the smallest, but most easily recognized constellations in the sky. Crux lies along the Milky Way and is surrounded by Centaurus, the Centaur, on three sides.

Its brightest star is called Acrux, a combination of its Greek-letter designation (Alpha) and the name of the constellation. Acrux, which represents the foot of the cross, is a double-star system 200 light-years away. Despite its small area, Crux contains at least ten open clusters visible with small telescopes.

Because it is not visible from most latitudes in the Northern hemisphere, Crux is a modern constellation and has no Greek or Roman myths associated with it. Crux was used by explorers of the Southern hemisphere to point south since, unlike the north celestial pole, the south celestial pole is not marked by any bright star.

The Constellation Crux, the Southern Cross
Click on image for full size (130K JPEG)

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