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
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.
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)
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
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