Southern Cross

Crux, the Southern Cross, is the most famous southern constellation and the smallest constellation in the sky. The Southern Cross points to the South Celestial Pole.

Crux was lost to northern inhabitants after precession took it below the European horizon, but helped guide early European mariners into the Southern Hemisphere.
After it was lost to the northern regions, it had great significance to many cultures in the Southern Hemisphere. Several aboriginal cultures saw the Crux and the Coalsack Dark Nebula as the head of the “emu in the sky.” Others say it represents the sky deity Mirrabooka, who was chosen to help the wise man Biami watch over the tribes.
The image of the constellation was also found carved in stone at Machu Picchu, Peru, a site of the South American Inca culture.

Acrux or Alpha Crucis is a double star, blue-white in color and is the 14th brightest star in the sky. It is located 320 light-years from our solar system, and composed of two hot blue-white stars with luminosities 25,000 and 16,000 times the Sun's.

Beta Crucis is a blue-white star and is the 20th brightest star in the sky. It is also a very hot star, with a luminosity of 34,000 Suns, located 350 light-years away.

Gamma Crucis is the third-brightest star in Crux, a red giant 88 light-years away, and has a luminosity of 1,500 Suns.

The dark nebula – Coalsack can be seen at bottome of the image.

Crux lies along the southern Milky Way. It is rich in star clusters, and includes the Coalsack dust cloud. NGC 4755 is called the Jewel Box cluster (previous post) …. one of the brightest and youngest clusters known. The stars are mostly supergiants and probably only a few million years old. In a telescope, the Jewel Box is the finest open cluster in the southern skies.


Imaged 4.30am – 25th January 2013
Canon 7D
Canon 70-200mm L @ 100. Piggy backed on Celestron 925
ISO 1600
50 x 15 sec frames stacked with Deep Sky Stacker




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