Five Southern Circumpolar Constellations!

Hey, Sky Fans! Happy Friday! Say, remember a couple weeks ago we talked about circumpolar stuff? Those are the things that are far enough toward the poles that they they’re not seasonal and they never set, but instead, they’re in the sky the whole time, just revolving around the pole? Cool. After that, we had Five Northern Circumpolar Constellations.

Well, to tidy up the conversation, here are five constellations that are circumpolar at about 40 degrees south latitude (Wellington, New Zealand; Hobart, Australia; Coihaique, Chile; Trelew Argentina, among others) Away we go:

  1. Apus, the bird-of-paradise
  2. Crux, the southern cross
  3. Volans, the flying fish
  4. Pavo, the peacock
  5. Octans, the octant (a navigational tool)

Crux, oh Crux… if there’s any constellation I haven’t seen that makes me smile… Crux is the one. If you’re a fan of flags, you might know it’s such a prominent part of the southern night that Australia and New Zealand (at least for the moment), have it on their flags.

Here in the north, we’re pretty fortunate to have Polaris leading the way toward the north pole. The southern hemisphere doesn’t have a pole star. Instead, two of the the brightest stars of Crux can be used to point toward the south south celestial pole.

Southern Circumpolar constellations (from Stellarium)
Southern Circumpolar constellations (from Stellarium)

And those star names! The brightest is Acrux. The second brightest has a couple of names, one of them is Becrux. The third brightest, Gacrux.

By the by, you’ll notice Rigel Kentaurus toward the bottom of the picture above. That’s the star we often think of as Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to our overcast and rainy corner of the galaxy. Huh… that, and Crux’s stars, gives me an idea for a Word of the Week.

Have a great weekend, and clear skies!



7 thoughts on “Five Southern Circumpolar Constellations!

  1. The southern cross is supposed to pale in comparison to the cross in Cygnus. Now I’m not dissing the southern views, only that when someone like Neil DeGrasse Tyson says most of the good stuff is in the Northern Hemisphere, I’ll take his word for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, it’s funny… I’ve read the same thing about the Sourhern Cross, but a guy I used to work with, who grew up in Australia, told me it’s quite a sight. He’s a good, trustable guy, so between him and the flags, I figured it was something else. I’ve never seen the sky south of Honolulu, though. Man, do I love the sight of Cygnus high overhead on summer night. Dr. Tyson is probably right on.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah… it’s also on Brazil’s, Papua New Guinea’s, and another couple of southern hemisphere countries’. Watch. Tomorrow, the angry emails from Uruguay and Angola will start rolling in. “How could you??!!!” They’ll demand. Here’s a little fun flag trivia, perhaps the only piece of fun flag trivia: the half of the flag closer to the flagpole is called the hoist, the farther half, the fly. The Australian and New Zealand flags have Crux in the fly. It’s a fact! Now, tell a friend!

      Liked by 1 person

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