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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Earthsky Tonight – Dec 25 2009 Northern Cross stands upright on winter evenings

Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science

December 25, 2009, The Northern Cross
December 25, 2009, The Northern Cross

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. To find out how to locate Crux in Hawaii right now, look back at yesterday’s chart.

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 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!

Written by Deborah Byrd

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