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Sunday, 7 April 2013

Southern constelations.

Southern cross and Orion.

Last night was one of those crisp clear nights that herald autumn and then winter. The stars looked so close you felt you could touch them.

Click to enlarge.

The southern cross, a few degrees to the west you will find the false cross, looks very similar, but if you use it to find south you will get lost. The false cross can be seen as a symbol for "religion", while the Southern cross is seen as symbolising the faith that leads to salvation. 

Almost at the top of the photo are the four stars of the cross itself, towards the bottom are  the two pointer stars, pointing almost due south. There is a simple formula to work out true south, from the Southern cross, but I don't know it. The bottom most star of the pointers is Alpha Centuri, the closest star to us, only, (only!) four and a half light years away.

The exposure for this photo was more than 10 seconds, when you enlarge the photo you can see how the stars have moved, or rather how far the earth turned in 10 seconds.

Orion. Head and shoulders form a triangle towards the bottom right of the photo, the three vertical stars make up his belt, the three stars, (you have to enlarge the photo to see the third) pointing diagonally up and left is his sword, and the two widely spaced stars further to the left are his hips.

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