There are many constellations visible in the nighttime skies in the southern hemisphere. Everything you see will finally rely upon your location and the season. Those who are southern circumpolar constellations could be viewed throughout the year. Southern Circumpolar Constellations: Apus, Chamaeleon, Circinus, Crux, Dorado, Hydrus, Mensa, Musca, Norma, Octans, Pavo, Triangulum Australe, Tucana, Volans
The following is an inventory of that constellations are visible during every season from the Southern Hemisphere:
Southern Spring Constellation: Andromeda, Aquarius, Aries, Cetus, Grus, Lacerta, Pegasus, Perseus, Phoenix, Piscis Austrinus, Pisces, Sculptor, Triangulum
Southern Summer Constellations: Auriga, Caelum, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Carin, Columba, Eridanus, Fornax, Gemini, Horologium, Lepus, Monoceros, Orion Antlia, Boötes, Cancer, Canes Venatici, Centaurus, Coma Berenices, Corvus, Crater, Hydra, Leo, Leo Minor, Lupus, Lynx, Pyxis, Sextans, Virgo, Pictor, Puppis, Reticulum, Taurus, Vela
Southern Autumn Constellations: Antlia, Boötes, Cancer, Canes Venatici, Centaurus, Coma Berenices, Corvus, Crater, Hydra, Leo, Leo Minor, Lupus, Lynx, Pyxis, Sextans, Virgo
Southern Winter Constellations: Aquila, Ara, Capricornus, Corona Australis, Corona Borealis, Cygnus, Hercules, Delphinus, Equuleus, Indus, Libra, Lyra, Microscopium, Ophiuchus, Scorpius, Scutum, Serpens, Sagitta, Sagittarius, Telescopium, Vulpecula
What most people find surprising when they start to learn about southern hemisphere stargazing is that even though the Southern Cross is portrayed on Australia and New Zealand flags giving it worldwide exposure it’s not the most striking of night sky features. In reality it is fairly small and faint and you need to know exactly where to look – more on this later. In the southern hemisphere, there is no bright pole star as there’s a north star for the northern hemisphere.
However, once you find the Southern Cross it becomes your constant point of reference when looking for other constellations. A star map or planisphere is helpful in assisting you to find constellations since you can turn the dials to represent the date so that you get an image of things to search for in your map. Just make certain to get one special for the southern hemisphere!
Thus, to navigate a southern hemisphere night sky you must first track down the Southern Cross. Handy then that the Southern Cross is circumpolar in it can be viewed all year round – except September to early November when it does dip beneath the horizon. When looking up at a southern hemisphere night sky you’ll be amazed by how pronounced the Milky Way is. The Milky Way is readily recognised as a wide group of slightly lighter skies stretching across the centre of the skies from south west to north, packed with many brilliant stars.
You have to orientate yourself to confront to the South, on doing so that you need to be able to identify two very bright stars in the Milky Way rather close to the horizon, one roughly above the opposite. These are – from above down – beta Centauri (Hadar) and alpha Centauri (Rigil Kentauri). These glowing stars are often known as”The Pointers” as they point toward the Southern Cross. Drawing a visual line from alpha , continue up a very short distance and you will encounter the Cross lying on the side. From here you are able to locate the rest of the constellations using the Cross as your reference point.
You do not need specialist equipment to view the night skies and stargaze. However, the benefits of a planisphere cannot be underestimated and a small pair of binoculars are going to be a great help supposing you don’t have any light pollution interference to be concerned about. For more advanced astronomers or amateurs a telescope is the next step up or purchase and can be really useful as soon as you’ve learnt to identify a number of constellations and are becoming more comfortable with navigating around between them.
Another excellent source of star charts can be the vast array of computer software alternatives available. There are a number of excellent planetarium-style programs available. You might also do a search to find a planetarium application online. A visit to your regional planetarium will provide you a background prior to going out to the field yourself.
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