It can easily be recognised by the obvious cross shape and by the 2 bright pointer stars to one side. The Southern Cross is a constellation that is often shown to those learning about the night sky. The first thing you'll notice after dusk south of the equator is that the northern constellations appear upside down. How worried should we be? The Australian flag featuring the Union Jack, the Commonwealth star and the five stars of the Southern Cross was first flown in 1901. The stars of the Southern Cross – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon Crucis – form an asterism that really looks more like a kite than a cross.Two of the brightest stars that form the cross, Alpha Crucis and Beta Crucis, are among the brightest stars in the sky and easily visible from the southern hemisphere. "We don't just want [measurements] where it's dark in the country, we actually want to take measurements of where people live in urban environments so we can see how much light is affecting our atmosphere," she said. Finding the constellations and asterisms you thought you knew so well can be difficult: The Summer Triangle becomes the Winter Triangle down s… The Southern Cross or Crux is the smallest of the 88 constellations. The Coal Sack is the dark shape at lower left of the Southern Cross. But most of the observations have come from people living in the Northern Hemisphere. "And that is the one we know now that proudly shows the Southern Cross. In areas of South Australia and Queensland the Southern Cross represents a sting ray. Four make up the cross shape and there is one dimmer star between the two stars on the longest edge of the diamond. Over the last week there has been a discussion in Column 8 (Sydney Morning Herald) about the stars of the Southern Cross. It might depend on where you live. The five stars. "It was lost for many years," explains Professor Colless, "until it was rediscovered by the Portuguese when they began to circumnavigate the globe.". From there, you need to count how many stars you can see using just your eyes (not binoculars or a telescope) and match it to the maps on the website that best represents what you can see. While these stars are visible from most places, a fifth star — ε (Epsilon) Crucis may be harder to spot in light polluted areas. The Southern Cross at various times in June. If you look out between 8-10pm, the Southern Cross will be high above the southern horizon and tilted on an angle. "They put the five stars on their flag that symbolised their rebellion and which they swore an oath of allegiance to.". The brighter they are, the lower their magnitude. The Southern Cross, image created by Nick Lomb using TheSky software. As the Southern Cross spins around the sky once a day we can use it to find the time as long as we know the date. The idea is to get as many people around the world to look at the stars on April 23 during International Dark Sky Week, said Marnie Ogg, head of the Australasian Dark Sky Alliance. If you count the stars in the Southern Cross tonight you will contribute to the worldwide effort to map light pollution during International Dark Sky Week. The five stars that make up the Southern Cross - Alpha, Beta (also known as Mimosa), Delta, Gamma and Epsilon Crucis - are 10 to 20 million years old. When viewed through binoculars it appears as … Astronomers call the Southern Cross the Crux and attach a letter of the Greek alphabet to the main stars in their order of brightness. Each of the maps is based on how bright the stars are — or their magnitude. The Southern Cross climbs highest - due south - in the evening around now. For a few years it was also a popular tattoo. The four main stars of the Southern Cross constellation are Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta Crucis.Several dimmer stars are within the borders of the Southern Cross. "A lot of the law and the customs are recorded in the stars and the Southern Cross is very important for that.". The Southern Cross is familiar to many cultures in the southern hemisphere and is featured in the national flags of Brazil, Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Samoa. The UK closed its borders to South America due to the new Brazil variant. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here . The Southern Cross is one of the most recognisable patterns of stars in the southern night sky, and forms part of the constellation Crux. "You can sort of see many more stars than we know in the Southern Cross but what you have is some stars that seem to be in a cross like the Southern Cross we know," says Dr Helman. Alpha-2 is a single star about 13 times as massive as the sun. If you are in a darker area you may be able to see even more stars — the constellation contains 49 stars that are bright enough to see at the absolute limit of human eyesight under perfect conditions. The four main stars of the famous Southern Cross constellation are Acrux (Alpha Crucis), bottom; Becrux (Beta Crucis), left; Gacrux (Gamma Crucis), top; and Delta Crucis, right. The original letter hasn't survived but a 1516 copy inscribed on vellum is held in the collection of the State Library of New South Wales and has been on display in the Mapping our World exhibition at the National Library of Australia. This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Professor Colless says the stars were known to the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians but by Roman times the Southern Cross had sunk below the horizon, disappearing from sight in the Northern Hemisphere. Along with air pollution, light pollution is a big problem for taking wide-field photographs of the night sky. 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