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Earth & Sky: Northern Cross Stands Upright on Winter Evenings

Posted By Editor On December 25, 2008 @ 9:15 am In Area News | Comments Disabled

By Deborah Byrd


We get many questions from people in northern latitudes about if and when they can view the Southern Cross in their portion of the sky. The truth is that, unless you live close to the tropics (Hawaii, or the southernmost parts of Texas or Florida for those of us in the U.S.), you will not be able to view the Southern Cross, also known as the constellation Crux.


Take heart. We in the northern half of the globe have a less renowned, but a larger Northern Cross asterism our skies. The star Deneb identifies the top of the Northern Cross, and the star Albireo marks the bottom. The Northern Cross is a clipped version of the constellation Cygnus the Swan. Tonight you can find this constellation low in the north-northwest sky at mid-evening.

As an added bonus, if you have a pair of binoculars, break them out this evening and point them at this constellation. Around the Swan is a part of our Milky Way galaxy that is called the Cygnus Star Cloud. It is part of the spiral arm of our galaxy that also contains our sun, and you should be able to pick out stars from it if it is a clear night in your area!


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