But Corvus looks like a shopping trolley. These constellations have been around for thousands of years. But this raises an interesting point. They were named after things that were important or common in the time of the people that saw them. Just as now we have our mobile smartphones, our tablet computers, our cars and airplanes and things like that. This group of stars is small and bright. It has three of the top thirty bright stars in the night sky, and it now makes up the smallest area in the sky after the break-up of the sky by the International Astronomical Union.
But to the various Indigenous communities across this land, the Southern Cross has an incredible diversity of stories and meanings. For example, our curator at the Powerhouse Museum, James Wilson-Miller, has told us of the story that comes from the Murri people up towards the top of New South Wales and in the bottom of south-east Queensland. And it relates around, well, the first person to ever die. You see, this story of the Southern Cross tells us that long, long ago, there was a great sky spirit called Baiame who walked the Earth and he made three people, two men and one woman.
He then left for his home in the sky.
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And for a long time everything went swimmingly well. But then came a big dry spell and nearly all the plants and all the animals died out. They were so hungry that one of the men killed a small kangaroo rat, cooked it, and gave some of it to the woman and she ate it. He got so upset, he started to walk away. The man and the woman that were eating stayed where they were, and continued to eat.
So they followed him off. And they walked for a long, long time. Over the sandy hills and the pebbly ground, until they found him on the edge of a coolibah plain near the side of a great river. He kept walking. He kept walking and walking until he came to the side of a big gum tree, and he fell to the ground, dead. As the man and woman approached, they yelled out to him. But they saw the huge black figure with fiery eyes right next to him. There was then a large crack of thunder and they fell to the ground, startled and stunned. When they looked up, they saw the black figure lifting the tree up towards the sky.
All they could see were the fiery eyes of the yowie spirit carrying the tree up into the sky. There was also a very loud screech of some Mooyi— some cockatoos that were flying after the tree, and they called out after the tree as it went higher and higher into the sky. At last, the tree planted itself near the edge of the Milky Way, where all the other spirits live in the sky.
And it disappeared from sight.
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All they could see now were the four fiery eyes shining out: the two eyes of the yowie spirit of death that had carried him into the sky, and the two eyes of the man who died. In fact, he was the first man to die. The Mooyi or cockatoos are chasing after the tree in the sky, and trying to get back to the tree. And they are, of course, Alpha and Beta Centauri, the two bright Pointers that we see pointing towards the Southern Cross.
When you look at the Southern Cross, as I mentioned earlier on, you will see that the stars are different brightnesses. You see the closest star to the Southern Cross is Gamma Crucis. Wrapped around the Southern Cross, although not all that easily seen at the moment, is the fairly large constellation of Centaurus — half man, half horse. But, I think it would be best at this particular stage to leave Centaurus for another month or two until it gets slightly higher up in the south and the south-east. Canopus is significantly naturally brighter than the brightest star I mentioned earlier: Sirius the Dog Star.
Ah hah! As I mentioned earlier: the distances. Stars are at different distances. Sirius is only 8. In fact 20, times brighter than the Sun. This is a particularly intriguing story. You see, more constellations I think relate back to this story than any other. The constellation was deemed to be too big, however, and has been broken up into four smaller constellations: Carina the Keel, Puppis the Deck, Pyxis the Compass and Vela the Sails.
This whole area from the Southern Cross to Canopus is truly gorgeous. But scan this part of the sky because there is so much to be seen. But you also have some clusters, some open clusters which are young stars formed at the same time. And you also have a rather intriguing cataclysmic variable star. A star that changes its brightness over a regular period of time. This particular star, Eta Carina, is dying. It is indeed a young star.
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The intriguing thing is that the Boorong Indigenous people who are part of the Wergaia language group in the north-west of Victoria observe this star brighten dramatically from a fairly ordinary 3rd or 4th magnitude star in the s or s to become the second brightest star in the night sky by and then fade from brightness by the end of the decade. Now what these people did was absolutely amazing.
They incorporated this variable star into their sky lore, and they named the star Eta, Carina, Collowgullouric War Collowgullouric War is the wife of War, which, most of us, as I mentioned a moment ago, know by its more common name of Canopus. So this is a very good example of how indigenous peoples from around the world observe what happens in their environment and incorporate that into their sky lore. Now, to some Indigenous communities, Achernar, along with Canopus, represent the cooking fires of some celestial brothers that are represented by the Large and the Small Magellanic Clouds.
They just look like patches of Milky Way that have, well, broken off and drifted away. But what in fact they are, are two very close, nearby, galaxies. The Large and Small Clouds of Magellan. Cool, huh? Galaxies pass through each other all the time. Highlights for the month of March The first quarter Moon will be on Thursday 1st March at Full Moon will be on Thursday 8th at 8.
Last quarter will be on Thursday 15th at New Moon will be on Friday 23rd at 1. And first quarter, the second one for the month, will be on Saturday 31st March at 6. The autumn equinox for us in the Southern Hemisphere will be on Tuesday 20th at 4. Mars is rising in the east, in the constellation of Leo by mid-month, and will have a magnitude, or a brightness, if you like, of about minus 1. This is just a little fainter than the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius the Dog Star.
So well worth a look but not as good as it was in the past. By the 27th, the Moon will have moved and be a little bit above and to the side of Venus. Going back towards the east, by the end of the month, Saturn will be rising in the constellation of Virgo, just under its brightest star which is Spica the Ear of Wheat. The further south and east your location in the UK, the better. In this lovely image, the Crab Pulsar is the lower right of the pair of bright "stars" near the centre of the image.
It is an easy winter telescope object given a moonless and transparent sky away from towns and cities. Learn more about the Faulkes Telescopes and how schools can use them: Faulkes Telescope". Use the link below to find when the space station will be visible in the next few days. In general, the space station can be seen either in the hour or so before dawn or the hour or so after sunset - this is because it is dark and yet the Sun is not too far below the horizon so that it can light up the space station.
As the orbit only just gets up the the latitude of the UK it will usually be seen to the south, and is only visible for a minute or so at each sighting. Note that as it is in low-earth orbit the sighting details vary quite considerably across the UK. Across the world too for foreign visitors to this web page. Find details of sighting possibilities from your location from: Location Index. See where the space station is now: Current Position.
To mark International Year of Astronomy, a team of British astronomers have made the largest lunar image in history and gained a place in the Guinness Book of Records! The whole image comprises This allows details as small as 1km across to be discerned! The superb quality of the image is shown by the detail below of Plato and the Alpine Valley. Craterlets are seen on the floor of Plato and the rille along the centre of the Alpine valley is clearly visible. The image quality is staggering! These were then stitched together to form the lunar image.
The Night Sky May | Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics
Please follow the link to the Lunar World Record website and it would be really great if you could donate to Sir Patrick Moore's chosen charity to either download a full resolution image or purchase a print. Jupiter passes behind the Sun on May 13th - superior conjunction - so will not be visible until the very end of the month when it rises just 45 minutes before dawn and could be glimpsed at magnitude -2 with binoculars just above the eastern horizon. Saturn reached opposition on April 15th and is now seen about 25 degrees above the eastern horizon after sunset and will be in the south around midnight BST.
It will then have an elevation of some 33 degrees and lie about 5 degrees up and to the left of the first magnitude star Spica as it moves westwards across the sky in "retrograde" motion through the constellation Virgo. Sadly, in contrast to Jupiter, Saturn is heading to the more southerly parts of the ecliptic so, for quite some considerable time, will not be seen high above the horizon from our northern climes. It is now well be worth having a look at its 19 arc second disk and ring system.
With a small telescope on a night of good seeing, you should be able to easily spot Cassini's Division within the ring system, and given a scope with an aperture of 6 inches or greater and a night of excellent seeing one might even spot Encke's division in the outer A-ring and also the inner, elusive, C-ring.
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Mercury, is barely visible low above the eastern horizon as May begins and might just be glimpsed with binoculars just 5 degrees above the horizon at Sunrise shining at magnitude zero. It rapidly disappears from view as it reaches superior conjunction lying behind the Sun on the 27th May. Mars , lying below the body of Leo, the Lion, is still, at the beginning of May, some 60 degrees above the western horizon an hour after sunset. Moving further away from us, its magnitude fades from At the same time its angular diameter shrinks from 10 arc seconds down to 8 arc seconds but, given a night of good seeing it may still be possible to see some markings on the surface.
Venus , is still dominating the south-western sky after sunset. As May begins it is at its brigtest - magnitude However as Venus moved towards the Earth - with its apparent angular size increasing to 57 arc seconds by months end - it rapidly closes towards the Sun and so will only have an elevation of degrees at sunset. In the last week of May, the thin crescent should easily be visible in binoculars and it is said tht keen eyed observers may even spot this with their unaided eyes.
Why not have a try? It might just be pointed out that at inferrior conjunction on the 6th June Venus passes in front of the Sun - the second, and last, Venus Transit this century! The constellation Gemini is now setting towards the south-west and Leo holds pride sic of place in the south with its bright star Regulus. Between Gemini and Leo lies Cancer - which is well worth observing with binoculars to see the Beehive Cluster at its heart.
Below Gemini is the tiny constellation Canis Minor whose only bright star is Procyon. Rising in the south-east is the constellation Virgo whose brightest star is Spica. Though Virgo has few bright stars it is in the direction of of a great cluster of galaxies - the Virgo Cluster - which lies at the centre of the supercluster of which our local group of galaxies is an outlying member. High overhead in the north is the constellation Ursa Major which also contains many interesting objects.
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Gemini - The Twins - lies up and to the left of Orion and is in the south-west during early evenings this month. It contains two bright stars Castor and Pollux of 1. In fact the Castor system has 6 stars - each of the two seen in the telescope is a double star, and there is a third, 9th magnitude, companion star 73 arcseconds away which is alos a double star! Pollux is a red giant star of spectral class K0. The planet Pluto was discovered close to delta Geminorum by Clyde Tombaugh in The variable star shown to the lower right of delta Geminorum is a Cepheid variable, changing its brightness from 3.
M35 is an open star cluster comprising several hundred stars around a hundred of which are brighter than magnitude 13 and so will be seen under dark skies with a relativly small telescope.
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It is easily spotted with binoculars close to the "foot" of the upper right twin. A small telescope at low power using a wide field eyepiece will show it at its best. Those using larger telescopes - say 8 to 10 inches - will spot a smaller compact cluster NGC close by. NGC is four times more distant that M35 and ten times older, so the hotter blue stars will have reached the end of their lives leaving only the longer-lived yellow stars like our Sun to dominate its light.
As the Hubble Space Telescope image shows, it resembles a head surrounded by the fur collar of a parka hood - hence its other name The Eskimo Nebula. The white dwarf remnant is seen at the centre of the "head". The Nebula was discovered by William Herschel in It lies about light years away from us. The constellation Leo is now in the south-eastern sky in the evening.
Stellar Pinwheel May 31, Evening Traffic Jam May 25, Storms Ahead? May 22, Cold Fire May 16, First Space Station May 14, Phenomenal Cosmic Power May 10, Recalibrating May 6, Eye of the Storm May 2, Inside Job April 30, Closing In April 24, Close Neighbor April 21, Crowning Glory April 19, Getting Together April 16, Lunar Lumpiness April 14, Messy Star April 12, Twist and Flip April 8, Bright Crater March 28, Zapping Earth March 26, Cracking Up March 22, Sharp Destination March 19, Sneaky Comet March 10, Solar Sculptor March 1, Making a Black Hole February 26, Self-Portrait February 18, Keeping Track February 16, Getting Close February 14, Illuminating the Darkness February 9, Fiery Galaxy February 5, Grand Sky February 2, M31 Blues January 29, Double Vision January 25, Hiding Places January 23, Doomed Moon January 13, Knotheads January 10, On the Job January 8, Stars Galore January 6, Bright Interlopers January 2, Ready for Arrival December 31, Saturnian Two-Fer December 27, Dangerous Exposure December 20, Powerhouse December 17, Lunar Attraction December 15, First Encounter December 13, End of the Road December 10, All that Glitters December 4, Rocky Home November 29, Orion Rising November 26, Enigmatic Moon November 19, Molecule Factory November 13, Saturnian Vortex November 11, Extreme Telescope November 8, Blue Night November 5, Artistic Clouds November 1, Colorful Demise October 23, Orionid Meteors October 20, Saturn Looms Large October 18, Stellar Twister October 11, Active Neighbor October 8, Bull Rush October 4, Morning Mashup October 1, Mars Targets September 29, Extreme Astronomy September 25, Moonwatch September 22, Messy Building Zone September 18, Collision Course September 12, Bright Companions September 7, Stellar Geometry September 4, Red Rivals August 29, Leading the Way August 26, Ready for Departure August 23, Words From Home August 20, Fire in the Sky August 18, Two-for-One Offer August 15, Inside the Wall August 12, Martian Litter August 10, Getting Acquainted August 8, Drop In, Stay Awhile August 6, Rube Goldberg Meets Mars August 5, Final Approach August 3, Pink Lagoon July 26, Moving On July 23, City of Power July 20, Swift Comet July 16, Flying Eagle July 12, Stellar Plot July 7, Galactic Hat Dance July 2, June 29, Moon and Company June 25, Fast Exit June 18, Back to the Moon rocks June 11, Seeing Spots June 9, Busy Nursery June 6, Sun Spot June 4, Lunar Nibble June 2, Little Giant May 29, Around and Around We Go May 26, The Strongman May 22, In the Zone May 18, Star Stream May 15, Moon on a String May 11, Where Am I?
May 8, Messy Meal May 4, Stellar Headlights May 1, Busy Galaxy April 29, Wiggly Ring April 26, Looking Up April 23, Almost Home April 21, Last Stop April 19, Wrinkly Moon April 17, Subtle Color April 15, Radiation Hunter April 7, Seeing Double April 4, Snack Time March 29, Leaking Moon March 26, March 23, Busy Neighbor March 20, Brilliant Darkness March 16, Blowing Bubbles March 13, Celestial Headlights March 10, Stormy Skies March 8, Doubly Brilliant March 6, Mighty Mars March 3, Bright Babies March 1, Planetary Impressionism February 26, Up, Up, and Away!
February 20, Shielding the Hunter February 17, Star Factory February 13, Split Personality February 9, New Heavyweight Champion February 6, Stellar Afterlife February 1, Restless Sun January 30, Winter Wonderland January 26, Tangled Galaxy January 22, Squashed Moon January 17, Busy Nursery January 13, Stormy Skies January 11, Second-Chance Planets January 8, Crab Nebula January 6, Staring at the Bull January 5, An Eyeful of Moons January 2, Lunar Arrival December 30, Saturnian Traffic Jam December 26, Christmas Comet December 23, Survivor: Comet December 16, Galactic Swirl December 14, Two-Toned Moon December 5, Stellar Timebomb December 1, Rare Birds November 28, Cloudy Skies November 26, Ready to Roll November 23, Birthplace of the Stars November 17, Saturn Simulacrum November 13, Phobos Flop?
November 11, Heavenly Lightshow November 6, Martian Target November 3, First Encounter October 29, Dark World October 27, Saturnian Encounter October 25, Star City October 19, Diving into the Future October 17, Fire Mountain October 13, Martian Rapids October 10, Boundless Starbirth October 5, To Boldly Go October 1, Swirling Center September 27, Seeing Red September 22, Water World September 16, Water Works September 13, Still Standing September 9, Lunar Lumpiness September 6, Hard-to-Study Planet September 2, Stormy Skies August 31, Aging Family August 28, Beautiful Eyes August 25, Pulverized Moon August 22, Still Going August 18, Ring of Fire August 15, Final Destination August 11, Drippy Planet August 8, Last Look August 3, Bacteria Colony?
July 29, Looking for Life July 27, Mars on Earth July 26, Seeing Orange July 25, That's All, Folks! July 22, Settling In July 18, First Stop July 15, Final Approach July 13, Seeing Double July 10, Last Call July 8, Two-Toned Moon July 7, Hello, Sunshine July 2, Great Comet June 30, Close Call June 25, Dirty Moonwalker June 22, Out of Order June 20, Double Trouble June 11, Big Splash June 7, Bright Passage June 6, Facelift for Science June 3, Fast Flyer June 1, Ready for Liftoff May 30, Star Factory May 26, On Duty May 23, Free Agent May 19, Final Endeavour May 16, Faithful Geysers May 13, A Big Bottle of Windex?
May 11, Stellar Canvas May 6, A-OK Flight May 5, Close Call May 2, Dawn Encounter April 29, Messy Youngster April 25, Close Family April 22, Life and Death April 19, Crater Crawling April 16, Watery Mars April 14, Double Date April 12, Veiled Sisters April 6, Cotton-Candy Star April 3, First Glimpse March 31, Artistic Storm March 28, Star Maker March 24, Blue Moon? March 21, Safe Arrival March 18, Just Passing By March 13, Close to the Monster March 10, Small But Powerful March 8, Halley's Armada March 5, Nice View March 2, Last Show February 25, Beautiful Reflection February 21, Close Cometary Encounter February 17, Second Glance February 15, Messy Star System February 10, Looking In February 8, Long Journey February 6, Galactic Sparkler February 2, Peeking Giant January 28, Delicate Power January 21, In the Zone January 18, Lunar Swirl January 12, In the Spotlight January 11, Galloping Nebula January 8, Blue Lagoon January 6, Close to the Sun January 3, Over the Rim December 31, Crater Climbing December 30, Martian Robot December 29, Fizzy Moon?
December 27, Happy Holidays! December 25, Sun Power December 22, Disappearing Moon December 20, Shields Up! December 17, Holiday Decoration December 16, Geminid Meteors December 13, Saturnian Iceball December 8, Venusian Dawn December 6, Sparkling Lake November 30, Witch Head Nebula November 26, Night Over Water November 22, Atomic Pile-up November 20, Seeing Sparks November 16, Found It! November 15, Getting Acquainted November 12, Steamy Star November 9, Stately Nebula November 6, Fowl Comet?
November 5, Closing In November 4, Astronomical Ghost October 31, Galaxies Galore October 29, Scarface October 25, Jolly Green Comet October 21, Searching the Darkness October 15, Heading for a Rendezvous October 6, Planet Nursery October 4, Galaxies Galore October 1, Colorful Aurora September 28, To the Moon and Back September 24, Giant Scar September 20, Life from Death September 17, Dressed for Success in Space September 15, Moon and Companions September 10, Lively Galaxy September 3, Puffy Planet August 26, Two Moons Rising August 16, Galactic Beauty August 11, Busy Black Hole August 11, Heavy Lifting August 7, Jumping Through Hoops August 5, Flying Saucers!
Big Foot Lake July 27, Cosmic Bullets July 20, Stellar Sculptors July 15, Dusty Skies July 12, Still Going? July 9, A Little of Everything July 6, Just Passing By June 30,