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Saturday, January 26, 2013

 

This Australia Day 2013, Find The Southern Cross

The Southern Cross as seen from Adelaide at 9:30 pm ACDST. Similar views will be seen from other locations at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

The Southern Cross is a Southern Hemisphere icon, and it appears as a central part of the Australian flag. However, many people would not be able to find the Southern Cross in the sky with confidence.

This Australia Day, when you are out getting ready to watch the Australia Day fireworks, is an excellent time to locate the constellation.
First you need to locate South. If you don't know which way south is at your local fireworks venue, then use a street directory (whose pages are oriented north-south, south is the bottom of the page) or Google Maps, to find where south is in relation to the nearby streets. Otherwise, south is to the left of Sunset.

Most of the fireworks will be around 9-9:30 to be family friendly but still be dark enough to see the fireworks.

Look south, about two handspans left from due south, and a bit over one handspan up (where a handspan is the with of your hand when making a "stop" sign with your arm fully outstretched) you will see a pair of bright stars, these are the pointers. A further handspan up and a bit over a handspan to the left you will see a cross shaped group of stars (see diagram above).

That's the Southern Cross. Now you can enjoy the fireworks knowing you have found the inspiration for our flag.

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