The symbol of the southern hemisphere - the constellation of the Southern Cross

Constellation Southern Cross, as its name says, is available to residents of the southern half of the planet.On the territory of Russia you will not see it.However, the name of the star cluster known to many "northern" residents of the literature, it is mentioned the great romantic travel Jules Verne, Dante and epic.In addition to the literature, many people know the constellation of the Southern Cross in the Australian flag, where it symbolizes the state of Victoria.

Earth history celestial phenomenon

begin with, that the constellation of the Southern Cross - a fairly young.In ancient times, it has not yet taken shape is in the form that we see today, did not receive its name and, accordingly, has not been mythologized.

However, the Romans understood by the Southern Cross asterism, that is a cluster of stars, which is called the imperial throne.That is to say that the earth's history of this group of stars began before the band received its present name.Ancient Arabic astronomers also known star cluster in the place where now stands the constellation of the Southern Cross, although called him otherwise.

Australians who have "free access" to the constellation, have their own myth.In their view, the cross - two cockatoos chased by an evil spirit (played by coal bag which is quite symbolic, because where else zasunesh stolen).

European Middle Ages gave birth to a beautiful legend associated with the fall of the first people.It was believed that Adam and Eve in tears watching the removal of the Southern Cross, decried the act of our first parents.It was since then, they say, and this constellation is not available to the eyes of residents of the northern hemisphere.

Before the seventeenth century, this cluster does not include a specific constellation, its stars were considered as part of the constellation Centaurus.According to various sources, "delinked" Southern Cross whether Bayer (in this case, it happened in 1603), whether the Frenchman Roye (if it happens three quarters of a century later, in 1679).

Familiar name appeared due Magellan sail around the world, but finally was recorded only in the 18th century.The purpose of assigning four stars indicating the name "Southern" was necessary to distinguish them from the constellation Cygnus, which in that era often also called the Cross.

Dimensions constellation

Because excessive romanticizing Southern Cross people far from astronomy, believe that this is a large and bright constellation.However, for a person, not an armed telescope, this star cluster looks like a combination of four stars, really depicting several oblique cross.The reason is that the rest of the stars in the constellation, rather dull, and the naked eye distinguishes them slightly.In fact, the Southern Cross - a constellation (photos it shows clear), consisting of a large number of stars (about 30).However, the constellation is very little.For example, the northern hemisphere favorite Big Dipper includes 125 bodies, and the cluster size is greater than the so-called "big" Southern Cross almost twenty times.

inappropriate names

If strictly treat the title, the constellation of the Southern Cross called it prevents cross-fifth "star", comparable in brightness with four major and visible so even without a telescope.It would be correct to say that it is perceived as a luminary of it without amplification, since in reality it is - dozens of stars in different colors.And if the telescope sight is mesmerizing, the common man it is somewhat difficult perception of the constellation is in the form of a cross.

importance of the Southern Cross to orient

However due romanticizing this constellation is quite simple.In the southern part of the globe, it is comparable to the northern half of the North Star.Only if our own "Index" helps determine where the north, the traveler cross indicates where the south.

Important clarification - to determine the direction of the southern constellation of this is much more difficult than north of the North Star.In the Cross to the south indicate only two stars: Alpha and Gamma, otherwise known as Acrux and Gacrux.They form a longer axis of the rhombus.In principle, in the direction of the traveler oriented.But if you want a more accurate indication of the need to extend the diagonal of four and a half times and find it a little star with the generic name Sigma octane, which is practically over the South Pole.So for all of these calculations have to be almost a professional astronomer.However, the sailors of antiquity they were, and managed to dispense with today's complex, but precision instruments.

Another difficulty

Apart from all these difficulties, the orientation in which the constellation of the Southern Cross helps, hinders the existence of another similar star cluster.It is close by and belongs to two constellations: keel and sail.This outline of this asterism disgust to look to the south, "pointer", for which he was named False Southern Cross.An experienced eye can see that the diameter of fraud has an inclination angle in the wrong direction, but those who sailed in the old days in these waters for the first time were wrong and were moving in the wrong direction.