09 April 2012

Southern Cross

When you see the Southern Cross
For the first time
You understand now
Why you came this way

One of the things I looked forward to the most about this trip was being able to see the Southern sky and its varied constellations.  I was feeling a bit glum about my possibilities to see the stars in the Southern sky since it was rainy in Fiji and the city lights impeded all but a star or two in Auckland.
Seeing that there was an observatory in Sydney I booked a night tour then crossed all my fingers and toes that it would be a good night for viewing.
We got our wish.  After a day on the city tour bus seeing the sights we headed down (up) to the hill on the waterfront where the observatory was located.  We had a great tour and got to see many planets, nebula, and stars through the telescopes on site.  Then we went outside to look at the constellations.
On our way in that night Art commented that Orion was in the sky, and he was!  What was he doing down here?  He was rather lying on his side but you couldn't mistake his belt.  It turns out it is one of the few constellations you can see in both hemispheres.
Our guide also pointed out Sirius for the Harry Potter-ophiles in the group and a few others.  Then he pointed out the Southern Cross- finally!  I had struggled to find it myself and found what I thought was it.  Turned out there is an imposter in the sky.  The real Southern Cross has two "pointer" stars that help to locate it.  The brighter lower pointer star is Alpha Centauri.  The cross was lying on it's side above the two pointer stars on this night.  I tried to get a picture but with no tripod I could not get a long enough shot.  I borrowed this from online and thank the person who took such a good shot.  Follow the two pointer stars (in a mostly vertical leaning left line at the bottom).  Above them (looking for the top of the cross to be on the left and bottom on the right with the shorter cross section up and down) is the Southern Cross!  AAhhhhhhhh!!!
Alpha Centauri
above the C (center bottom)

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