Because I live in the Northern hemisphere and I grew up listening to the song by Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Southern Cross has always held mystique for me. For people that are serious astronomers or star-gazers, it’s not that spectacular. It’s a fairly small constellation in a sky filled with bigger and more glorious stars.
What makes the Southern Cross cool though is that it’s used to find the South Pole! This is somewhat important if, let’s say, you’re living several hundred years ago and it’s your job to point the captain of the ship in the right direction so you can get to where you need to go before your food (and alcohol) run out. Nowadays we have GPS.
All you have to do is draw a line from the top of cross, Gamma Crucis the orange one, through Alpha Crucis, the bottom star, and keep going about four times the length of the cross. Then drop straight down to the horizon. Violà, the South Pole! How cool is that? There are more accurate and complicated ways using other stars and angles and lines but this way is close enough.
Anyone else out there seen the Southern Cross?