Looking For The South Celestial Pole?
Follow The Southern Cross Constellation

Crux, also known as the Southern Cross Constellation, is the smallest of the 88 constellations.

Visible primarily in the southern hemisphere and low northern latitudes. Crux is circumpolar below -34 degrees declination(about 34 degrees South latitude).

With five bright main stars, alpha, beta, gamma, delta and epsilon crucis, Crux is highly visible.

All five of those stars are magnitude 3.6 or brighter and within 365 light years of Earth.

From the top of the cross Gacrux(gamma crucis) trace a line south to Acrux (alpha crucis) and continue about 4.5 times that distance and you will get near the celestial south pole.

Sigma Octantis is the southern pole star but is not very bright, so Crux offers a better guidepost.

The nearby "false cross" an asterism often mistaken for the Southern Cross does not point to the south pole.

Crux has the pointer stars Alpha and Beta Centauri leading to it.

southern cross constellation stars southern cross constellation weith outlines

Getting To The Crux
Of The Southern Cross Constellation

Right Ascension: 12 hours

Declination: -60 degrees

Visible between latitudes 20 and -90 degrees

Best seen in May (at 9:00 PM)

Named Stars: ACRUX (Alpha 1 Cru) Becrux (Beta Cru) Gacrux (Gamma Cru)

One of the better features in the constellation Crux is the coalsack nebula. A dark patch in the southern Milky Way visible to the naked eye.

Six star clusters reside within the constellation's borders. These are:

NGC4609, NGC4103, NGC4349, NGC4439, NGC4337, NGC4052.

One of the best views in the night sky and unfortunately only for those in the southern viewing area is the Kappa Crucis Cluster.

Known as the Jewel Box Cluster, NGC4755, is a beautiful open cluster of red, blue, yellow and white supergiants.

Lying about 7500 light years away and covering about 20 square light years, this cluster contains over 100 stars and has an apparent magnitude of about 4.2.

Visible with the naked eye but simply spectacular in binoculars and telescopes.

A must see for southern hemisphere viewers.

Note: underneath Crux in the above pictures is Musca with Carina to the right.

Southern cross constellation to constellation homepage

constellations and backyard stargazing