Constellations of Crux and Musca
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Crux and Musca
Roll mouse over picture to see constellation figures and outlines
Image and text ©2008 Akira Fujii/David Malin Images.

In the picture above, north is at the top and the image covers 30.2 x 37.8 degrees.
Image centre is located at 12:45:57.4, -58:17:42 (H:M:S, D:M:S, J2000) Astrometric data from Astrometry.net.

Crux with Musca
Best seen in the early evening in May

Crux, the Southern Cross, is the smallest constellation in the sky yet one of the most distinctive, at least to those of us who live in the southern hemisphere. It was once part of Centaurus, where the bright stars Acrux and Mimosa could easly be imagined as the rear hooves of the rearing mythical centaur. However, when Christian sailors began to explore southwards in the 16th century, this memorable asterism took on a new significance.

The first known drawing and description ("this crosse is so fayre and bewtiful...") of the southern cross was made by Andrea Corsali in 1516. The drawing identifies the south celestial pole (polo antatico) and the two Magellanic clouds, well inside the line of 60 degrees south latitude. The cross appears on the national flags of several southern hemisphere countries, including Australia, though it can be seen on the southern horizon from the tropic of Cancer, 23.5 degrees north of the equator.

Alongside the Southern Cross is a very distinctive dark shape known as the Coalsack, much used by southern hemisphere astronomers as an indicator of a dark sky, especially if the sixth magnitude star embedded in it is visible. As can be seen from our image of Octans, the long axis of the southern cross points towards the south celestial pole, so the cross itself acts as a very convenient circumpolar clock, compass and calendar.

Musca (The Fly) has its own page, where the constalltion is complete.

Named stars in Crux and Musca: (none in Musca)   (Greek alphabet)
Mimosa (β Cru), Acrux (α Cru).

Constellations adjoining Crux: Centaurus, Musca.

Related images (other sources -- see under 'Related Images' on these pages)

AAT 25.     NGC 4755, the Jewel Box open cluster in Crux
AAT 83.     NGC 5189, weird planetary nebula in Musca
MISC 16.   The Southern Cross star colours -- step defocus technique

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David Malin, 2009 October 15